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Full text of "Processed World"

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 



http://www.archive.org/details/processedworld11proc 




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o SUMMER 19840 ooooooooo 




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o o o o 



LETTERS 



DONT-WANT 



from our readers 



THETYRANNYOFTIME. . . 



article by mead-o 



11 



IT TAKES A JANITOR TO TELL THIS TALE 



anoni;rr\ous tale of toil 



24 



HOME MOVIES 



31 




photos from silicon ualle\^ tour and End of the World's Fair 



DOWNTIME! 



36 

robots unionized!, stopping london, computer sabotage advice 



FOR WOMEN, THE CHIPS ARE DOWN 



article fay fa. berch 



42 



A DELUGE OF GRANDEUR 



fiction b]^ thomas burchfield 



DRUGS: A CORROSIVE SOCIAL CEMENT 



article fay lucius cabins 



47 



52 




Ail of the articles and stories reflect the views and fantasies of the author and 
not necessarily those of other contributors or editors. 

p-^o oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 

(^y Cover Graphic: "The Bag Managers" by Melinda Gebbie 

ICREDITS: Bea Rose, Stephen Marks, Paxa Lourde, Helen Highwater, Mead-O, Louis 

»Michaelson, e. oZoNe, Maxine Holz, Linda Thomas, Boz, Lucius Cabins, Jesus Jr., 

Melquiades, Kelly Call Girl, Chris Winks, Pauline Slug, Clayton Sheridan, Steve 

Stallone, Primitivo Morales, Oarl, Ashbury Press, Cal Trade Bindery, and many others. 



Processed World, V'> Sutter St. #82*), San Francisco, CA 94104 USA 



implete, end, finish, done ^'■^'^^ss^^ IVor/d is distributed by Last Gasp (SF), Independent Publications 



ISSN 0735-9381 

Subscription info 

on page 64 



(Chicago), Prairie News Agency (Chicago), Tower Books (Sacramento), 
Anarcho-Pacific Distributors (Vancouver), A Distribution/Freedom Bookshop 
(UK), Jura Books (Sydney Australia), or by consignment directly from us (40% 
discount off cover price) . . . 




nnnnnnnnnnnnnn 



nnnnnnnnDDDnnn 



dear pworld, 

In pworld 10 I read "The Chips Of 
Our Lives." With a SUNY degree in 
video art, I proceeded to SiUcon Valley 
to seek work as a computer 
programmer. I knew that Silicon Valley 
was where I could find work for a salary 
significantly higher than any place on 
Earth. I also knew that there were more 
jobs than people and, even with my 
self-taught knowledge, I had an 
opportunity to jump into the job market 
after college (a rare thing these days). 

So, off I went. What I didn't know 
was that there were more people than 
places to live. My big salary looked like 
pickings after rent. What I also didn't 
know was office politics. I learned the 
hard way. One day, after an employee 



"purge," in anger, I wrote some stuff 
on the bathroom walls. I figured I would 
stimulate discussion. NO. People were 
disgusted that anyone would have the 
nerve to write on bathroom walls. They 
put up notes shaming my actions. 
Wasn't anyone disgusted that manage- 
ment had just lied to us and unjustly 
"layed off" workers? 

Occasionally now, I see some of the 
old pals I worked with in the valley. 
They tell me about their big salaries. I 
keep trying to remember my low rent 
and other obvious advantages of a 
non-valley existence. I'm not sorry I 
lived there, it is certainly a monument 
in history. An advancement is 
happening there that will either surge 
and die or will change all of our lives. I 
can't tell which. 



Letters 



I couldn't stand the classism, the 
office life, the buildings without 
windows, the social network, the fat 
salesmen, the blandness, the ever- 
present military, the car life, the lack of 
places to eat or go, the landlord, and 
most of the neighbors. I do think 
though, that if there is any way out of 
the 9-5 existence, it is robotics and a 
generation of computer systems that 
will release humans from their 
work-hell. 

Judging by the overwhelming 
motivation of the workers in my valley 
company, if released from work-hell, 
most of them wouldn't know what to do. 
I would. 

M.L. — San Francisco 



Dear PW, 

I work in a warehouse where I receive 
pallets of boxes daily. One day, a box 
arrived addressed to the Naval 
Weapons Center in Oakland. The 
sender was IBM — it was a shipping 
error. The contents appeared to be 
some kind of computer software — 
mechanical gears for the war machine. 

The box sat on a shelf for a week 
while I considered its fate. I considered 
taking the package home and giving it 
to sorrie friend who owned a computer. 
In the end, I opted for sending my 
greetings to the Naval Weapons Center; 
I marked the box all over — US OUT OF 
EL SALVADOR - and left it in the mail 
to be picked up. 

Unfortunately, my supervisor, a 
devout believer in the gods of business 
and private property, got to the package 
before the mailman and showed it to the 
Big Boss. Big Boss came over to 
admonish me for my "childish 
behavior." In a business where no 
worker is older than 40, being called 
"childish" is something like a football 
coach calling one of the players 
"faggot." Big Boss don't believe in 
mixing business with politics. He was 
particularly irate because a co-worker 



had marked a box destined for S. Africa 
with a similarly suitable message. 

I don't believe my behavior was 
childish, but in retrospect, I believe it 
was foolish. Foolish because I got 
caught. Foolish because they wrapped 
up that box so it looked like nothing 
ever happened. 

So this is my message for citizens of 
the Processed World: the strong action 
is discrete and effective. A loud state- 
ment often never reaches the right ears. 
I should have quietly shipped that IBM 
box straight to the dumpster. My 
co-worker should have ripped up the S. 
Africa order and gone around smiling a 
quiet smile all day (to paraphrase 
another co-worker). Oh well, you live, 
you learn. 

Yours for more courageous actions, 

RF 

vww 

Dear Processed World, 

Re the "three principles" enunciated 
by J.S. of Richmond, CA in his letter in 
PW #8: 

First, emphasis on the emancipatory 
effects of ever- increasing amounts of 
information overlooks a number of 
important considerations. 

1) The powers-that-be will do their 
utmost to withhold crucial information 
until (at least) the moment of its 
historical significance is past. (Who 
cares when we now find out FDR knew 
Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed?) 
For the most part they will be 
successful. 

2) What information is available is 
"packaged," its purpose firstly and 
lastly to be sold. The commodity form 
automatically, hence almost without 
notice, ensures that the content will 
reflect the naturalness and immutability 
of exchange-for-gain consciousness. 

3) So what if we can have available a 
hundred times the information we do 
now? We are already saturated by 
information. Instead of enlightening us 
it merely serves to confound and 



Processed World 



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distract us from the underlying pattern. 
Sifting away and drawing out 
information into a critique of the 
dominant ideologies and an understand- 
ing of our historical predicament is 
quite a different task, and a peculiarly 
human one, than learning more facts 
about more things. 

Second, to assert that computer 
technology is neutral is naive and 
simple-minded. Just as different trees 
grow in various climates and soils, so 
different technologies arise from the 
various social structures in which they 
are embedded. (In some areas, like 
Antarctica, there are no trees, and 
nearly no life. In other areas, like the 
oceans, there are no trees, yet they are 
teeming with life. The absence of 
technology can mean many things.) The 
development of computers has been 
chiefly propelled by the capitalists' 
need to solve their bookkeeping 
headaches, with the refinement of 
weaponry a bonus side- effect. The 
societies that computers arise from are 
based on accumulation and imperial- 
ism. 

So what if the PW readership were 
tomorrow to come into control of all of 
America's computers? What would we 
do? Give everybody in the country an 
equal number of shares of General 
Motors? Redirect the missiles against 
South Africa and El Salvador? 
Computers are part and parcel of this 



present system of war and domination. 
There is no reforming them, no making 
them serve good ends. The myth of the 
neutrality of advanced technology 
parallels that of the state. Both seek to 
convey their indispensability — 
adequate productivity in an overpopu- 
lated world without the presence of 
high-tech is impossible, society without 
government is unthinkable. Once 
people are convinced of their necessity, 
the failures of these technological and 
political processes can be passed off at 
the level of staffing and/or funding 
problems. Thus the familiar lament, "if 
only we had good people at the reins 
and/or more research into the matter." 
People go on to exhaust their energies, 
and eventually their hopes and dreams, 
on electoral battlefields and in 
laboratories inventing new technics to 
remedy the calamities created by the 
current technics. The present system is 
not like some amorphous vessel waiting 
alone on the shelf ready to accomodate 
whatever human aspirations and needs 
happen by. No, it is a very specific form 
of life that precludes, obstructs, and 
obliterates the others. Our desires, 
cosmic and everyday, are contained 
within and deflected by its ideological 
boundaries. The first step to getting out 
of the cage is to see it. 

So, as the saying goes, "if voting 
could change the system, it would be 
against the law." If computers had 
anything to do with an egalitarian and 
free society, they would not exist. Our 
struggle is not to take control of the 
computers (or the government), but to m 
eliminate them. 

Third, J.S. is correct in asserting that - 
revolutions occur when great numbers \ 
of people move in the same direction 
though ofttimes with different goals, 
motivations, and theoretical back- 
grounds. But to emphasize that a social 
revolution is a "process" smacks of a 
gradualist vision of societal change. 
Revolutions are nothing if not sharp 
breaks in history (relative to the existing 
pace of change) wherein vast amounts 



Letters 




of power are lost by some classes and 
interests and gained by others. To read 
J.S. you would think a sales count of 
microcomputers was an index of class 
consciousness and social insurrection. 

The advent of capitalism did produce 
a revolution — the social hierarchy was 
radically restructured and the reality of 
values radically reordered. To echo the 
pitch of the Apple company shills and 
talk of a "computer revolution" 
however is just a bad joke. Computers 
are here not to upset the current social 
arrangement but to preserve, solidify, 
and extend it. Only by an Orwellian 
debasement of language could an 
instrument for the suppression and 
impoverishment of the masses of the 
earth be heralded as a vehicle for 
dismantling the ruling classes. 

And as for those oh- so- wondrous 
Gothic cathedrals — remember, their 
construction was contemporaneous with 
the beginning of the Inquisition. 

For a world without clocks, 
Nebraska 



^ \l\/\/\/\f\ f 



processed worlders — 

I recognize that things are bad, but I 
don't have any desire to change them in 
any organized or managed fashion. I've 
just purchased an Apple Macintosh, for 
instance, because it will enable me to 
continue what I enjoy doing and save 
me time on those tasks I hate: retyping, 
filing, keeping track of trivial details. 

I've worked in various positions. 
I have an m.f.a. from the University of 
Arkansas. I used to be a poet-in-resi- 
dence with the South Carolina Arts 
Commission's Total Arts Program. I got 
fired from that job for giving the only 
reading those assholes ever arranged 
for me in the year and a half I worked 
for them. I was asked to apologize to a 
member of the audience (an arts com- 
mission sponsor, given) who was 
offended particularly by the idea of 
somebody shoving a Black & Decker 
drill up his ass. The poem is a compen- 
dium of people I've known or read about 
in the daily papers. All I did was cast 
the incidents in undestandable 
language. 

It was while I was working for the 
UNC-Chapel Hill, Printing & Duplica- 
ting Dept. [that] I received my first oral 
reprimand for having a bad attitude. 
When I requested in writing a clear 
definition of what was bad about my 
attitude and specifically what a good 
attitude was, I received an oral repri- 
mand on abuse of sick leave. So it goes, 
I spent nearly nine months in one 
grievance after another at that place, 
until I was promoted to equipment 
control technician in another depart- 
ment where it was my honor to affix tiny 
metal decals to the university's 
moveable equipment and inventory 
same. 

After I got my masters, my first full- 
time job was hanging turkeys for the 
Ralston-Purina Co. in Springdale, Ar- 
kansas. In effect, I've been hanging 
turkeys all my life. 

If there's any reason I shouldn't be 
included among the citizenry of the pro- 
cessed world it's that my motto is 



Processed World 



BRING ON THE BOMB. I have no 
argument whatsoever with other 
individuals who protest, disrupt, sabo- 
tage, or otherwise refuse to participate 
in any system. The best I've been able 
to do thus far in supporting any 
continuing process is to maintain a 
compost heap with which to feed the 
garden. 
Take care. 

Ligi - Portland, OR 

P.S. There are many "politically 
aware" individuals out there who still 
believe the system can be changed. I 
often wonder why none of these people 
have ventured an amendment at even the 
local level which would count the 
no- shows of registered voters as votes 
of no- confidence. I voted for McGovern 
in 1972, the only time I voted, and I 
registered and pulled the lever because 
George McGovern in 1972 was voicing a 
morality and responsibility that ran 
counter to everything I saw this country 
stood for. I voted my opposition. That 
there was no paper in the voting booths 
does not bother me even now. What was 
Watergate, what did it mean, after all, 
if not that no one could beat Richard 
Nixon? I know people who are still 
reluctant to admit they voted for 
McGovern. Few people like admitting to 
siding with a loser. The funny thing is 
George McGovern could have won in 
1972; probably even did win, but the 
embarrassment oif the landslide made it 
impossible for anyone to call for a 
recount. A recount would have found, 
perhaps, that there were no actual 
tallies, that the figures announced by 
the networks were supplied by CREEP. 
Remember that wonderful acronym? 

I recognize the difficulty in getting 
such an amendment to pass. After you 
had the necessary signatures on the 



petitions to put it on the ballot, the 
people who most supported it would not 
be able to vote for it. This is not irony. 
This is simply one of the reasons I 
prefer the bomb. 

Dear PW, 

I have to thank you. I too am an office 
worker, and I am aware not only of my 
bosses exploiting me, but of the entire 
system I am involuntarily contributing 
to. It is a system by which a privileged 
few enjoy the spoils of a worldwide 
economic disease. A disease which 
rewards those who divide and confuse, 
built on fear and fed by hate. I do not 
wish to support this system, but like so 
many people, I am willing to 
compromise with corporate America in 
order to gain the privilege (as it is 
defined by the landlords) of being able 
to sleep inside and eat when I want to. 

I don't want a raise. I don't want a 
bigger share of the spoils reaped by the 
great amerikan free enterprise system. I 
want to destroy this system, plow the 
great holy profits back into the soil, to 
heal, if it is possible, this poor planet. 

So meanwhile I am typing in data on 
my VDT which will make my beneficent 
company hundreds of thousands of 
dollars this week. Sabotage rewards 
some emotional satisfaction, but my 
company knows how to keep track of 
data that would, if altered, be able to 
make any real difference to the sainted 
profit margin. Since I work in payroll, I 
can cheer myself up knowing I can steal 
a little cash here and there for the 
workers I process. Still, I know the 
limits and it will never amount to much. 

Then one day, at seven a.m. (much to 
early for the bosses to be there) I begin 



Letters 



my shift and find a copy of Processed 
World someone has left on my desk. 
Feeling dramatic and trying to be non- 
chalant, I slip it into my drawer, to later 
joyously suck in each page. In this 
partitioned, soundproof, PCB lined 
office jungle, truly the worst fate is to 
believe in your boss's dream, to strive 
for the company good. Thank you 
Processed World, for letting me know 
there are others who despise the 
purposes to which they are employed. 
Thank you for letting me hope that 
someday, not too far from now, we will 
join hands, and let our bosses know we 
want room for everyone and let them 
know that it is time for them to get an 
honest job. 

P.K. — San Francisco 



Dear Friends at PW — 

Groan 
OK 

So I quit working at the restaurant a 
few weeks ago and it's GREAT! You 
think clerical work is bad but restaurant 
work is fuckn awful!!! Primarily 
because the people you must be 
subservient to are pretty much one 
dimensional saps. But I guess everyone 
has worked in a restaurant sometime or 
another — I suppose it's good that 
people can get a job pretty easily when 
they need to. . . (. . .Uh oh, lost in the land 
of dicotic indecision!...) 

ANYHOW, sorry to tell you, but it's 
been great being out of work. A chance 
to do some creative stuff, a chance to go 
to some galleries, to volunteer my time 
with some groups I want to be involved 
with, a chance to get to know myself 
again. 

It seems like I'm busier now than I 
was when I was working. I was 
surprised until I realized that it's not 
like I would be bored and have spare 
free idle bored time on my hands! Hell 
no, I can see where my heart lies — in 
creative involvement, not mindless 



droid clone labor. 

Still, I've got to get back to that harsh 
continuing Job Search Campaign. It 
hasn't been any fun having no extra 
money at all... but I think I've learned 
ways to be happy without materialism 
(yea), and alternative ways of getting 
what you need. Now, get out there and 
fill out those applications you rent 
slaves! 
Throw off the shackles of conditioning, 

B.S. - Seattle 



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Dear "Processed World": 

Although I'm not a clerical worker, I 
could identify with many of the articles, 
because I work in a huge bureaucratic 
institution, and I'm recently getting 
involved with our new union. 

I work at East L.A. College in the 
L.A. Community College District. The 
situation at my campus is this (my per- 
ception): administrators vs. teachers 
and staff (me); and teachers vs. staff. 

The faculty and staff are united in 
their fight against the administrators, 
but the faculty looks down on the staff. 
You know, they think their shit does not 
stink. We (the staff) think we are better 
than the faculty, 'cause we do real work. 
(I'm wrong to use "we" I guess I can 
only guarantee that this is my feeling). 
Even the faculty that treat us as human 




8 



Processed World 



MMMillll^^ 



beings still think we're, fundamentally, 
some lesser creature. From what I've 
observed, the faculty don't give shit 
about anything except their high pay. 

The staff are divided (so as to 
conquer, of course) into three "units". 
Unit I: Clerical/Technical (That's where 
I'm at), I don't even know what the 
others are called, exactly. One has 
trades/maintenance workers, the other 
has custodial, I think. 

My unit, clerical/technical, was 
represented by the California School 
Employees Association until recently, 
when they lost in the election to the 
American Federation of Teachers 
(AFT). 

AFT recently held an agency shop 
election for the faculty in our school 
district, and won. I am sure they'll be 
doing the same in our unit soon. 
Although I voluntarily joined this union, 
I will oppose agency shop, for the 
reasons I read in "Processed World." 
That is; agency shop will facilitate the 
union's shirking of responsibility. 

An interesting note: the president of 
this school district's AFT Guild joined 
the district as personnel something or 
other. Can you believe it? Seduced by 
the dark side of the force. 

Now that some of the low-life staff are 
in the same union as the holier-than- 
thou faculty, some staff are treated 
better, some worse, by faculty. 

And there is some snobbery, in that 
the white-collar staff think they're 
better than blue-collar staff, because we 
are in the faculty union. 

I happen to think that I am no better 
than a custodian, and no less than an 
instructor. 

As far as administrators go — they 
get more money than the holier-than 
thou faculty and do no work. They 
relegate all tasks to the faculty and 
staff: campus safety, etc. Where our 
input is useful they ignore it, i.e. 
campus budget committee. 

That's the way it is so far... 

B.M. — Pasadena CA 



KEEP THOSE 

CARDS AND LETTERS 

COMING!! 




PW: 

I used to be a technopeasant. But I 
was unhappy. My daughter did not have 
a cabbage-patch-doll-clothes-universe. 
My wife used generic eye shadow. We 
were unable to even dream of a 
completely oversized, underused house 
in the Lafayette Hills. 

Now I have a desk-terminal-business 
cards- BART ticket (with magnetic strip) 

- brief case (with papers) - a friend who 
thinks Marcuse is a boutique in Carmel 

- shirts with alligators on teatie - Satur- 
day afternoon at "The Mall." Garbage 
in Mega-tons... 

Well you must excuse me — the 
coffee truck is here — I'm going to get a 
glazed old fashioned and a transparent 
cup of coffee... 

B.P. — Concorde A 



PUBLIC POETRY PART 4 
"Public Poverty" 

Positive thoughts, 

Keep your chin up, 

beheve in your dreams. 

Public poverty 

Walks with eyes downcast 

in search of a dream 

Fat wallet stuffed with cash 

by Linda Thomas 



Letters 



MY LATEST POETRY INTERVIEW 

you can turn out a poem a day can't you 

shit I said I can turn out a dozen 

fuck I can turn out twenty thirty a day I said 

you're hired she said 

not so fast I said 

we ain't talked compensation yet 



you worried about compensation don't 
this is a going concern she said 
we belong to the chamber of commerce 
; and we got compensation like any other shop in town 
comes out of every paycheck 

I'm talking wages lady 

I'm talking what I get for my thirty poems a day 



what thirty poems a day 

the ones I write 

what do I get paid for the poems I write 

we're talking what we publish mr. ligi 
we can't subsidize your experiments 
we pay for work we can use 

so what are we talking I said 

a hundred a week to start she said 
or eight bucks a poem 
and you work back in composing 
and when you ain't writing 
you can set type 

eight bucks a poem I said 

what do you think you're james dickey she said 

did he used to work for you too 

by Ligi 




Oh, what a lovely rag! 

I must say, it makes my day a little 
more pleasant to sit down without work 
already piled on my desk, knowing I can 
spend my day writing letters and 
fomenting revolution. 

I find myself wondering occasionally 
what I'm doing here. I'm white, male. 



able-bodied, college-educated, from an 
upper-middle class family — I thought I 
was supposed to be one of the owners. 
Then I remember I'm an anarchist 
faggot, and it becomes clearer again. 
(Joanna Russ says "I don't want to be a 
feminist, it 's no fun/. . . People think you 
decide to be a radical, like being a 



10 



Processed World 



ship's chandler or a librarian, for 
heaven 's sake. You make up your mind, 
you commit yourself. . . . Years from now 
I'll put up our gravestone and no one 
will understand it but you and I. WE 
WUZ PUSHED.") 

Are male office temps queer 
everywhere, or is Boston unusual? (I 
suspect Sf isn't representative.) Love to 
hear from others about that. 

How about full-page posters that we 
could copy and distribute at work? Or 
particular recipes for imaginative sabo- 
tage? (Don't you just love the derivation 
of that word? A sabot is a wooden shoe, 
and Dutch mill workers threw their 
shoes into the mill works.) 

(I'm looking at issue #3 — the pro- 
gressive bookstore here is a bit cool to 
anarchism so things like PW are rather 
catch-as-catch-can — so maybe you're 
doing these things now.) 

I'd just keep rambling 'til someone 
puts a memo in front of me, but that's 
probably not such a good idea. Here 
comes someone asking what office 
supplies I need — if I order a refrigera- 
tor, do you think someone would notice? 
And does coming in on a weekend and 
telling the guard "Pardon me, I've 
come for the Selectrics" work? 

R.W. — Boston 




ON SHELF LIFE 

I am there 

in the wilted lettuce 

lopping out of the vegetable bin 

I am there 

in the slick slices of bologna 

sliding around the meat keeper 

I am there 

in the watery ricotta 

and furred cheddar 

I am there 

in the Jonathan 

gone brown and squishy 

I'm still waiting 
right where you 
put me 

too long now 
under refrigeration 

by Sheryl L. Nelms 





Every moment is a chore 
when you 're nagging time 
and pursuing every second 
with a will to conquer. 

Yet the hardest task is this: 

to be neither hunter nor hunted 

boss nor slave 

but outside the warp 

of time woven by work. 

Time is money. So intimate is this 
knowledge, one of our most popular 
activities is "spending time." Rather 
than 'wasting time' reading this 'on 
your own time,' let's hope you are 
doing so on 'company time.' One fun 
way of 'stealing time' on the job is 
creating 'downtime!' which could 



leave you with a lot of 'time on your 
hands.' In this case, 'killing time' 
sounds more active than merely 
'biding your time,' but then you could 
end up 'doing hard time' instead of 
working 'overtime.' Now, I'm seldom 
'on time' but then I'd rather be on 
drugs than a 'prisoner of time. ' When 
the 'time crunch' is so severe you are 
running 'doubletime' to 'make time,' 
instead, I'd suggest ruffling some 
feathers by 'blowing some time' to 
make it with a lover — the real prime 
time. 

People have not always perceived 
time in such peculiar ways. In Europe 
throughout the Middle Ages the very 
notion of a secular time, of owning 
and dividing it into measured units. 



12 



Processed World 



was considered sacrilegious. The 
developing merchant class was criti- 
cized for 'mortgaging' time which was 
supposed to be eternal amd belonging 
to God alone. In the 14th century a 
lector-general of the Franciscan order 
reiiGtajJied: ^ 

*--^:^:,the question^>0^i^, merchaj^^ 
entm^:tp demand q^^^^r payrn^f 

from ./•i^$ii^;::x;:?^i^::i::;:)ff^^ 

wl^tlpart^^^^^^^^e^^^^^^iso he 
woUid be'^'^^^^^ii^^^iij^^^uld be 
committing -^^^^^^ hy'r^^^^^^ what 
does not b^^^ip^hiini^?^^^^ 

The batt|||^||Q^^^i^p^^^ time 
wasn't ov\^^^^^^^^$^0^^ds and 
merchant in||^j$^||]^;:|^^ with 
the public W^^^^^^^^^^^chdjncdX 
clocks, workej^^::.^^^e^i|j|:i:J5^^ for a 
shortening oj^;|^;:^5|i:|^^i|ife[d, con- 
sequently, a|tti»i^^:;;;ip^|^^^i^easure- 
ment of timei;^jtiii^pe'ii|^|^ 14th 

century, the fundamental unit of labor 
time had been the day! The struggle 
against this is quite evident in the 
ordinance of the provost of Paris of 
May 12, 1395: 

Whereas several men of crafts such 
as weavers of linen or cotton, fullers, 
washers, masons, carpenters, and 
several other kinds of workers in Paris 
have wanted and do want to start and 
stop work at certain hours while they 
are being paid by the day as though 
they were on the job the whole day 
long, the provost reminds them, that 
"the working day is fixed from the 
hour of sunrise until the hour of 
sunset, with meals to be taken at 
reasonable times. " 

Despite the efforts of mercheuits 
and workers (although for opposing 
reasons) the social application of st£m- 
dardized time lagged behind its tech- 
nological development. While mech- 
anical clocks and large clocktowers 
became widespread in urbgm areas, 
they were less a tool of daily life them 
an ornament of status for cities. Even 
though the 60 minute hour became 
firmly established, it was completely 
unsynchronized from one city to 



another. In what seems like a Chap- 
linesque absurdity today, the zero 
hours of clocks varied widely and 
could begin at noon, midnight, sun- 
rise, or sunset. 

Modern culture, however, strives to 
jiiipt^asure out a meticulous metronome 
dj^i^uman activity. The common term, 
cji^ifework, reveals the insidious de- 
gi^iitiQ whi^i^|j»etered tij^ci^^ meshes 
wii^^^;.ASi:^5^^'^^n wor.l«:;i^ic to feed 
a s^i^^il;:i^:i^ii^j^^;:^i^ of social 
conti^^^|^^i^0|t^^' another, most 
daysp,:i^&pt^^f^^ch. in ajb^ur job, 
scho^" (»• ^pdnt^^^^ worksite^, rather 
thaji;:^)^ti}^_^.0jt':^e clocks that help 
ch^i^^^^^^i^^Sj^r. Long before the 
in^i^i^^^^S^^i bells, tirned tests, 
and .^^i^i^^TpJll^^eadlines American 
childii^^J3§o^^ti^^ -with a 

dQ^^Siij^j||t^^:5^re is a proper time 
ai^|^|^-i|^^§^ything." Partly this 
is^fliiS-i^oci^jiT^^bn necessary to par- 
ticipate in icciisl^ferative group endea- 
vours. Mostly, it reflects and perpe- 
tuates the mass conceptualization of 
time as something that must be com- 
pulsively filled with planned, struc- 
tured activities. 

UNWORKING THE WORK MYTH 

The relationship between the socizd 
conception of time, work, and identity 
is seldom put to public scrutiny. A 
recent book, Time Without Work, 
explores the experiences, feelings 
and values of those living outside 
wage work. While the editors did not 
include the unpaid labor of "house- 
wives, ' ' parents, or volunteers in their 
definition of work, the book could just 
as aptly have been titled 'Not Working' 
since it supplements Studs Terkel's 
Working by compiling first person 
accounts of the jobless. Two women, 
Walli Leff and Marilyn Haft, travelled 
across the U.S. interviewing 145 
individuals from diverse situations. 
The good, bad, and ugly of life 
without an income-producing job is 
spilled out by fired clericals, laid-off 
construction workers, a millionaire, 



The Tyranny of Time 



13 



gamblers, the disabled, artists, wel- 
fare mothers, former executives, 
street people, and many more. All in 
all 73 oral histories were selected to 
illuminate the love, hate, and often 
ambivalent feelings toward (not) wor- 
king that pepper the American con- 
sciousness. 

Leff and Haft's purpose and euialy- 
sis are presented in four short 
chapters. The first, "The Myth of a 
Nation at Work," articulates their 
basic premise: "Everywhere we went 
we were struck by the fact that a 



the reality that nearly 40% of the 
adult population (64 million of the 168 
million sixteen years of age and older) 
do not "officially" work. Additional- 
ly, they present a short history of 
"The Work Ethic 's Checkered Past" 
— the title of the second chapter. 
Both pre-industrial and industrial 
struggles against work are detailed. 
In particular, they examine industria- 
lizing America, it's peculiar develop- 
ment of 'alienated labor,' and work- 
ing people's various resistances 
against increasing cultural fragmen- 




Paul Winternit?; 



growing number of people did not 
hold jobs. . . [but] how revealing it 
was that the very fact of not working 
and any description of what that 
experience was like were so closely 
concealed. The reason, we soon 
began to see, resulted from the 
prevailing social belief that 'every- 
body' works. " 

That myth is thoroughly debunked. 
First, by ripping apart the standard 
manipulation of unemployment statis- 
tics, revealing how non-wage-workers 
become 'disappeared,' and exposing 



tation. Excellent materied is provided 
to support this chapter's conclusion 
that: "Even a regular salary, held out 
before people like a carrot before a 
donkey, was not foolproof enticement 
to join and remain in the industrial 
labor force. Once alienated labor was 
experienced, it clearly did not take so 
easily. " 

Leff and Haft's insights often pro- 
vide a wealth of well-researched in- 
formation and cogent analysis. How- 
ever, the third chapter (Toward a 
Natural Way of Working) and the 



14 



Processed World 



book's conclusion (A Future That Has 
Begun) are more hopeful than critical. 
For instance, they take the position 
that "Theoretically, the potential for 
great progress is prodigious" and 
". . . new technology, managed 
wisely and humanely, could free an 
unprecedented amount of free time 
for challenging pursuits." True 



enough. But no critique is made of the 
prevalent ideologies that see 'salva- 
tion through technology' and 'pro- 
gress as manifest destiny.' The 
editors make no mention of the 
complexity in developing new tech- 
nology compatible with a life-sustain- 
ing ecology. Nor do they mention the 
capitaUst logic inherent in new tech- 




I 



1 
( 



The Tyranny of Time 



15 



nology. 

The editors don't grapple with 
these complexities. But they also fail 
to challenge the institution of wage 
labor and this seriously faults their 
analysis. Despite their repeated ac- 
knowledgement of increasing struc- 
tural unemployment and that some 
people find joblessness quite reward- 
ing, they fail to attack the myth that 
full employment is desirable. Instead 
they lump together "massive unem- 
ployment, alienation, and hardships" 
as "failures of our system." Maybe 
massive unemployment is not a 
failure, but a signal to dump modem 
capitalism. Perhaps the solution to 
material deprivation £md social alie- 
nation fundamentally lies with eradi- 
cating all the buying and selling of 
human time? 

Without confronting the ways in 
which the money system, forced 
labor, and the commoditization of 
time perpetuate authoritarian control 
there is no hope for the big, 
"systemic changes" the editors call 
for. This leaves them in a kind of 
analytic schizophrenia — bound by an 
either/or schema. They conclude that 
either civilization might experience 
prodigious progress or the old exploit- 
ative, feudal-like practices will pre- 
vail, albeit in newly perverted forms. 
This is a very complex, dialectical 
process shaped by an ongoing history 
of struggle between the minority who 
wield power and the majority who are 
victims of it. By omitting an analysis 
of this dialectic, the editors can only 
hope that the (necessairy, but surely 
insufficient) dissemination of per- 
sonal stories and social research will 
enable us to oppose the increasingly 
sophisticated corporate/governmen- 
tal hold over our lives. 

However, it is a theme beyond the 
vivid and often contradictory descrip- 
tions of (not) working which makes 
Time Without Work so unique: how 
people deal with unstructured free 
time in a society bent on mass 
producing the opposite. Many of the 



stories reveal the submerged truces 
we form with a stEindardized, pro- 
ductivist-oriented construction of time 
that is against autonomy and personal 
fulfillment. One common truce is 
what I call the Busy Beaver Syn- 
drome. It was graphically expressed 
by a laid off chemistry professor: 

"I am obsessed with filling up my 
time. Instead of preparing dinner in 
forty-five minutes, I'll invite people 
over and take two hours to prepare a 
feast. I feel I must do something 
constructive. It's hard for me to read a 
book; I keep thinking I should be out 
improving myself. When I'm doing 
something frivilous, I feel that I'm 
throwing my time away. I never felt 
that when I was working. " 

Fundamental to American culture 
is the conviction that an income pro- 
ducing job is the correct way to 
dispose of time and avoid the anxiety 
of unscheduled time. The dread of 
being consumed by a vortex of squan- 
dered time is justified, for many, by 
the reality that work provides greater 
social possibilities than their non- 
work existence. A single mother 
related how work was tied to her need 
to feel active and social: 

"I like to work. I don't like staying 
in one spot, just doing nothing. It 
makes you feel lonely or sad. I can 't 
explain it, but I like to stay active. . . 
If I was working I'd socialize with 
people. You meet people and get to 
know different people, not the same 
friends all the time. I feel like time is 
wasting. I'm getting older and ain't 
got no job, can't get no job, ain't 
doing nothing. ' ' 

The feeling of emptiness, of being 
trapped in an aimless void is a serious 
crisis for many who are unemployed. 
This can be particulgu-ly acute for 
'unrecognized' workers such as 
women doing housework and caring 
for children. That wage work may be a 
preferred alternative is an indictment 
of the profound lack of meaningful 
community and social space that can 
truly meet our needs. For many, a 



Processed World 



TALES OF NOT TOILING 

Time Without Work (1983) is available 
from South End Press, 302 Columbus 
Ave., Boston MA 02116 for $9.00. 



»» »C? 0» »(3 KS? 

' 7 have had anger directed at me, 
especially by white middle-class peo- 
ple who have the attitude, 'We hate 
what we do, we hate our life, and we 
hate our work. We have to do what we 
don't like — why don't you? Why 
should you be any different? Why 
shouldn't you have to get a crappy, 
dumb job and be miserable?' " 

S9» S9» »» 0» a» 

Bob Fass who, at this point, had 
been fired from WBAI radio for 
refusing to sign a loyalty oath after a 
management/union clash put it this 
way: "Every situation of finding 
yourself unemployed is different. I 
was fired from the station once 
before. It was within three months 
after I began to do my program. 1961 
or '62, and it was devastating, 
devastating. When I was in the army, 
I was fired after two years, and that 
felt wonderful! When you 're fired in a 
strike it's another kind of emotional 
situation. ' ' 



"I went through all the usual 
emotions when I became unemployed 
— anger, surprise, puzzlement, baf- 
flement, despair — all the things 
people go through, I suppose, when 
they are told they have cancer. I must 
be going through some sort of 
emotional repression — but I can't 
think of any other explanation as to 
how I ended up building model air- 
planes. " 

a» 3» 9CS 9» a» 

**. . .it's like someone springs a 
trap door from under you and you 're 
flying in space, trying to grab onto 
something. . . work is such a security 
blanket. ' ' 

X9C »C «» «» C9(; 

* 'The work ethic produces too many 
workers who have to do too much 
work to satisfy that ethic. Modern 
automated technology can produce 
much more than workers can, more 
goods than society needs. So we have 
an excess of workers, an excess of 
work ethic, an excess of material 
goods and a discontinuity in the 
society. The technology has outrun 
the value system. " 



straight job may be the best setting 
for several kinds of important social 
relations: cooperating in groups, rela- 
ting to peers with similar interests, 
assessing how a specific goal can be 
realized, and negotiating for better 
conditions. 

Even for the millions who find their 
job absolutely wretched, there is a 
powerful myth that work is the under- 
lying structure for a satisfying life. 
Those who are not visibly engaged in 
productive functions 2ire seen as non- 
entities, or worse, parasites leeching 
off others busily executing structured 
tasks. Time not filled with planned 
activities becomes a paradoxiced pri- 
son whose doors are too wide open. 



That joblessness in this society tends 
to create and maintedn such a time 
vacuum is evident for this fired 
clerical: 

"The hours weigh on me. I don't 
have to do anything — to keep things 
clean or to keep myself up. I haven 't 
exercised. It's almost a mental prob- 
lem at this point. I'm just depressed.. 
I realize that I don't like to do 
anything and that most of the time I 
don't like what I'm doing. . . The only 
time I like is when we 're out visiting 
people and talking. But I don 't get out 
enough. Most of my friends work and 
I can't get myself to visit because I 
always think I have to have a purpose 
when 1 do it. ' ' 



The Tyranny of Time 



17 



In addition to having a sense of 
using time purposefully, another im- 
portant desire is arranging your time 
to be synchronized with others. 
Rather than allowing this to be a flex- 
ible arrangement, contemporary wes- 
tern societies have organized isolated 
'time tracks' that rigidly compart- 
mentalize leisure from work, educa- 
tion from application, personal feel- 
ings from your public persona, ad 
absurdum. The most common and 
perverse of these separations is the 
acceptance of life as an unavoidable 
schism between dreaded work and 
longed for free time. A laid off sheet 
metal worker saw it this way: 

"You get up, you go to work, and 
you come home and forget what you 
did. You fill in the time idly until you 
have to get up and go to work the next 
day. You live for the weekend and try 
to cram as much enjoyment as you can 
into two days because you know the 
next five are just a drag. ' ' 

WINNEBAGO TIME IS FOREVER. 

That most of our so called free time 
is far from 'free' is a fact few want to 
face. For the most part, a pervasive 
social amnesia blocks out the routine 
and stress that often makes off-the- 
job time just as constraining as 
working. For many, most of the time 
remaining after work is devoted to 
recovering from and preparing for the 
job. Grooming, commuting (usually 
during that in accurately named Rush 
Hour), eating, shopping, childcare, 
domestic chores are essentials that 
are rarely integrated with time on the 
job. But since work is so awful, we 
desperately need to find meaning in 
our non-work time designated as 
autonomous, even if these activities 
are largely shaped by mass consumer 
culture. 

In the age of alienation, consumer 
products are, for many, the closest 
approximation of satisfying our social, 
psychic, and erotic needs. In this way, 
the Happy Hour, eating out, enter- 



tainment and travel, fitness and 
spectator sports, all the various 
'Miller Times' of consuming culture 
have become the modem wages of 
alienated labor. Such wages exact a 
hefty price though. Not only are our 
real needs rarely met by the glorified 
goods and services pandered before 
us, huge chunks of time get consumed 
by the very process of selecting, and 
buying these commodities. Even with 
the advent of amnesia-inspiring plas- 
tic credit, few forget that along with 
the purchase of a commodity comes a 
commensurate expenditure of labor 
time. What often gets shunted aside 
are the secondary costs. 'Modern' 
goods increasingly demand expensive 
and time consuming maintenance. 
Coupled with planned obsolescence 
and the glut of new, 'improved' 
products and services, and social 
realization has unfolded that sees 
consumption (much like houseclean- 
ing) as something never finished and 
done with. This feeds another rip-off, 
largely hidden to many — the 
volumes of time churned up standing 
in line, 'on hold,' and waiting. 

QUEUEING: COULD YOU PLEASE 
HURR Y UP AND WAIT! 

Whether at the bus stop, bank, post 
office, or that hot lunch spot very few 
escape queuemg in line. Within a 
capitahst economy, all public services 
and private businesses strive to 
maximize their operational efficiency 
by minimizing their service costs, 
which often results in maximizing 
client waiting. The modern order, 
with its enlarged service sector and 
precariously complex organization, 
breeds endless opportunities for what 
seems to be unlimited periods of 
waiting. 

Not surprisingly, the nature and 
length of waiting varies mostly with 
the wealth of the individual. For 
example, in 'finer' clothing boutiques 
a customer is "waited on" by a sales- 
person who acts as an intimate guide 



18 



Processed World 



in finding what perfectly suits the 
buyer's discriminating tastes. In de- 
partment stores and establishments a 
grade below the best, customers may 
have difficulty finding someone to 
serve them during busy periods. 
However, once they get paired with a 
salesperson they are usually accom- 
panied until the transaction is con- 
summated. At the bottom of the rung 
are the Salvation Army and similar 
type thrift stores which have very few 
servers. Here, you wait on yourself by 
hunting through racks of clothes 
(often in total chaos) and, if success- 
ful, line up behind others at a cashier 
counter. 

Immunity from this kind of time 
drain is enjoyed only by those who 
possess the money, fgmie, and/or 
power to refuse to wait. The privi- 
leged can either afford to go else- 
where for faster service or make 
others, such as servants, secretaries, 
and other employees wait in their 
place. 

Often, the rest of us are driven to 
accept even the most congested 
waiting lines. A whole host of insti- 
tutions like banks, social services, and 
medical care produce long and, some- 
times, extremely humiUating periods 
of waiting. Nowhere is this more 
excruciating than when you expend 
enormous amounts of waiting time 
with no assurance it will result in your 
desired goal. 

Being processed for food stEmips 
and unemployment insurance are two 
of the most degrading of such 
situations. Like most public- serving 
bureaucracies, they dish out heaping 
amounts of delay, uncertainty, and 
debasement. Adding up the time you 
travel to and from the processing 
centers, the extended waiting once 
'on line,' the petty paperwork and 
personal probing by the authorized 
dispensers of the services, and the lag 
between applying for and receiving 
benefits, it is no surprise that many 
eligible recipients balk at the poten- 
tial waste of their time and dignity. 



SUBVERTING THE TIME BROKERS 

Our everyday activities will con- 
tinue to be defined by cash/time 
relations unless we vigorously fight 
for free control of our time. While this 
can never be fully realized in a culture 
which systematically divides units of 
time into productive and monetairy 
value, there exist small cracks in the 
mass clocking of life that can be pried 
open much further. One opening is 
the reclaiming of time structured by 
the cycles of nature. Another is the 
desire for more unstructured personal 
time. Both are points of resistance to 
oppose the frantic monotony and 
social sterility of an increasingly 
floure scent, interior life. 

Recreating natural time in a world 
that has largely killed, covered up, or 
segregated nature from people is 
hardly possible. What can be sought, 
when desired, is the integration of 
social life with naturally-determined 
cycles of activity and inactivity: day 
and night, phases of the moon, ocean 
tides, and the annual seasons. For 
instance, I like my work life to have 
a mixture of physical and intellectual 
tasks. How much of either depends 
mostly on my mood and the weather. 
On warm, sunny days my general 
preference is for outdoor, physically 
oriented activities. But on those cold, 
rainy days of January — forget it! 
Such flexibility is exceedingly simple 
and practical. Yet few of us get to 
make such choices. 

One person I know who does, found 
he could by living in the hinterlands of 
Alaska where he varies his waking 
hours from an average of 12 hours per 
day in the winter to a whopping 20 
hours per day in the summer. As it is 
for the wild animals of that environ, 
outside temperatures and available 
daylight play a critical role in his level 
and type of activity. Such a lifestyle is 
incompatible with this system's stan- 
dard modus operandi — a uniform 9-5 
schedule disrupted only by sickness, 
tragedy, and the yearly vacation. 



The Tyranny of Time 



19 



Of course, many people might 
never choose to live so closely to the 
natural cycles. Still, there are many 
ways we might want to rejoin the 
natural ties severed by this system's 
ceaseless drive for time-efficient uni- 
formity. For women, menstruation is 
an obvious biological force that is 
seldom considered in the social con- 
struction of time since it doesn't fit 
the relentlessly even-keeled mold. 
Similarly, very few of us can call into 
work and say, "Hey, I'm not coming 
into work today — I'm simply feeling 
too emotionally vulnerable (or an- 
gry!)." 

The absence of an external source 
structuring you into a 'time track' is 
basic for those wanting to self-man- 
age their time. The few people who 



Work described his organic structur- 
ing of time this way: 

"Fue never been able to hold to the 
idea of a self-imposed discipline. As 
soon as I stipulate that I must work 
three hours minimum at my painting, 
ril spend the day meeting with 
friends and getting high. If I get out of 
bed early in the morning and the work 
goes down with a certain amount of 
clarity, then Fll do that for a couple fo 
days until I hit two or three days in a 
row when it doesn't work. Then 
another system comes up. I don 't take 
these systems of discipline very 
seriously. ' ' 

Not taking the system seriously is 
central to taking charge of your time. 
One social expression of this is the 
rhythm of urban nightlife. Particular- 




internally direct their activity and feel 
good about their use of time invari- 
ably have little tolerance for authority 
or imposed structure. This doesn't 
mean they are incapable of schedul- 
ing time that is synchronized with 
others. Rather, their use of time 
arises from the merging of internal 
rhythms (social, psychological, and 
biological) and an open repertoire of 
responses to external factors. An 
artist interviewed in Time Without 



ly for the young and single, late 
night/early morning hours have be- 
come a time to 'get down' and strip 
away the drab veneer of the daytime 
work world. Clubs, drugs, parties, 
dancing, and other pleasurable per- 
sonal 'indulgences' take center stage 
for many. Often a rich mix of people 
and counterculture come together for 
spontaneous, open enjoyment. 

A more common daily experience 
presents a ripe opportunity for rebel- 



20 



Processed World 



:«** 



A TIME THIEF'S JOURNAL 

9:02 I walk through the main doors into winter 

the clockface a huge subzero asteroid 

eight hours of icecap 

unfurling ghostly peaks and crevasses in front of me' 

over the carpet the desks the staplers and ball-point pens' 

that still pretend to be real 

9:08 I huddle over my tea at Base Camp 

snuffling the steam like oxygen^ 

9:12Reluctantly I setoff «^^^^^iS^^i&r^ 

leaning into a smoky white flutter of documentation 

Forty-some minutes of heavy slogging 

until 9:53 when Joaquin walks in / excused of course 

Our gossip balloons up around us / a sun-orange tent 

Chuckling we nibble our mischief ration 

10:06 The boss whirls by like a low-pressure area' 

snapping our cover loose with an Arctic eye-blast^ 

It's 11:23 before I halt again 

looking back at my miles of tracks over scattered whi1 

then push on toward Noon Base 

12:04 I relax under a dome of protected air' 

warming my hands and toes in the infra-redempti 

of an authorized break 

It's terrific in here / my salad as colorful 

as a video game crunching its red and green pixel 

my novel swallows me like a sauna^ 

into a dozey subtropical twilight 

But suddenly it's 12:36 and I've got to move 

fresh paperwork already slanting down across my path 

1 :28 Lucia stops by with the mileage forms and a memo 

Up goes the gossip-tent / this time 

camouflaged by our Spanish into an inscrutable snowdrift 

Inside / our compressed boss-hate hisses^ 

out through the tiny burner 

a violet flame giggling across our 

1 : 35 We break camp and I move on over 

a wide blue-rib glacier / chart after chart' 

my worn stare can hardly get a pur chase 

Slow going until 

2:47 the intercom buzzes me like a supply shuttle 

dropping the silhouette-seed of a phone call 

Melinda's voice ripples open its red silk 'chute 

and swings down / I unwrap it 

news-clusters tumble out as delicate as berri( 

plans for the evening sealed in a dim shii 

like brandy through bottleglass 

2:53 I squint off toward the deadline' 

faraway still but flickered with heatless aurora^ 

I hang up and brace myself / the final dri> 

3:44 I blink away the glisten of fresh data^ 

thinking I must be there by now 

Before I know it I'm stumbling slowly 

into a crack in the world / a deep leafy canyon" 

hoarding a brainforest full of intricate warm! 

I get lost among branches 

coiled with snake-ivy / beaded with neon birds 



l emo ^ 



The Tyranny of Time 



21 



Somehow at 3:56 I stagger back up onto the plateau again 

trudging one step at a time ipp^^w^"^ 

over the heaped corrections 

into a headwind heavy with blankness / on and on 

4:58 Lucia's keyboard hum clicks off * 

and she's out the door before I register Ciao 

body already lit by the apricot star of early J une 

I watch the clock's iron wings ^.^ ■ -^f" 

flap creakily away like a deformed albatross ,'<J*»i" 

until tomorrow ^^wr^^gMF^gi^ " #'' <^ 

reach for my coat / one more time / it's 

Daylight Saving Me ' 



^J 




ling against the system — time theft 
on the job. There are a number of 
ways such theft manifests itself. 
Except for those strictly bound by a 
punch-card time clock, most workers 
have some potential to shrink work 
hours by arriving late, leaving early, 
and extending breaks and lunch hour 
to the fullest limit possible. If you 
work somewhat independently there 
exists the potential for the wholesale 
stealing of paid time. Then there is 
the normal lying about being sick on 
those days you would rather not go to 
work at all — oh so common on 
Mondays and Fridays. 

Still, these are only small reprieves 
from the inordinate amount of time 
spent at the workplace. Since we are 
often stuck there, it is important to 
insert as much of your personal 
agenda as possible into paid work 
time. In an office setting, this could 
mean writing personal letters or 
generating lots of phone conversa- 
tions with friends. If your workplace is 
mobile then you may be able to make 
social appointments or do personal 
errands during transit time. A tre- 
mendous time save is stealing re- 
sources from the workplace (especial- 
ly typewriters, phone equipment, 
computers) that you would otherwise 
buy through the sale of your labor 
time. As has been suggested before in 
PW, why not demand that lunch and 
commuting time be paid just like the 
rest of the time on the job? 

In isolation, such small pinpricks 
can only provide temporary relief for 
those assertive individuals fortunate 



by Adam Cornford 



enough to be in a 'loose' workplace. 
One example of a more collective 
response happened at a Silicon Valley 
firm. Due to market pressure, one day 
management demanded a 10 hour day 
from salaried employees to keep the 
corporation on its feet. For only one 
person to have flaunted this dictate 
would have resulted in a punitive 
measure against them. But when 
everyone refused to comply, manage- 
ment had no choice but to agree the 
extra hours was a bad idea. Similarly, 
the leverage in the previous examples 
of time theft would usually be 
strengthened as more people at the 
workplace act in collusion. 

The alternative, refusing to work 
altogether, usually means an impov- 
erished lifestyle that may or may not 
be better than submitting to forced 
labor. Unless you possess the per- 
sonal resources (both monetary and 
psychological) to transcend the money 
system and the normal drift toward an 
external time structure, withdrawing 
from wage work will not necessarily 
be liberating. 

Broad, systemic solutions to this 
bind are hard to see for the immediate 
future. Historically, the struggle for a 
generalized shortening of hours with 
no drop in pay has been indispensable 
for working people. In the 14th cen- 
tury, the fight was to utilize mech- 
anical time to define the work day as 
something less than the sunrise to 
sunset. When the industrial revolu- 
tion came of age, labor began to 
demand a 10 hour day/60 hour week 
which came to fruition in the early 



22 



Processed World 




1800 's in England with the passage of 
the Factory Act Laws. In the U.S., as 
early as the Civil War, the intense, 
often violent, fight for an 8 hour day 
began. By 1886 the 8 hour day move- 
ment organized the only nationwide 
General Strike in U.S. history. Over 
400,000 workers struck across the 
U.S. and Chicago became the flash- 



point of militancy with the infamous 
Haymarket Massacre. However, it 
wasn't until the 1930's that the 40 
hour week became broadly estab- 
lished. Without success, the turn of 
the century Wobblies (Industrial Wor- 
kers of the World) pushed a much 
wider and sharper vision with their '4 
by 4' slogan: "4 hours a day, 4 days a 



The Tyranny of Time 



23 



week!" 

Contemporary struggles are quite 
pale in comparison. One of the few, 
recent collective action by workers to 
change time relations, quantitatively 
at least, started in May, 1984. In West 
Germany a number of trade unions 
(metal workers, mass transit, print- 
ing, auto workers, etc.) initiated 
selective strikes in key industries for a 
generalized 35 hour work week at 40 
hours pay. Among several of the 
strike's shortcomings was the union 
leadership's ostensible goal — shor- 



ten the work week to increase em- 
ployment. Key to undermining the 
clockworking of consciousness is the 
realization that high unemployment is 
here to stay and could be part of a 
desirable social policy. Only when we 
realize that the time brokers (whether 
bosses, bureaucrats, commodities, or 
union leaders) cannot be allowed to 
own any of our time will the 
possibility emerge for a truly free, 
humane time. 

- Mead-0 



timeclock blues 



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TALE of TO I L 



MICZ^ZMK 



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MfC 



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IT TAKES A JANITOR 
TO TELL THIS TALE 




Anonymous 



I'm a janitor in a downtown San 
Francisco Financial District building. 
I've been a jeinitor for about three 
years, since I was laid off my last job 
in industry. I have been a production 
worker most of my life, went to 
college for a year, but it just seemed 
like such a waste of time. I was older 
than the other students (the Vietnam 
era intervened in my life some) and 
they were mostly into getting a career 
and getting all set in some corpora- 
tion. Today they are called Yuppies. 
Back then they were just hungry for 
money. I chose working in a shipyard 
over sitting in a classroom; nobody 
was counting on the industrial sector 
of the American working class being 
kicked out in the cold back in '74. 

I've had occasion to regret not 
choosing a white collar profession, 
especially in the last couple of years. 
It's getting harder and harder to make 
a living as a janitor. The pay is a living 
wage if you don't mind living in an 
apartment for the price of a house 
with a yard, riding Muni to work 
crammed into a car full of strangers 
and eating a sandwich out of a brown 
paper bag to save money because you 
can't afford the prices of a decent 
restaurant or tolerate the stuff they 
turn out as food at McDonald's. It's 
the same story all over. Life in the 
City is disappointing and dreary, but 




there's no work in the outlying areas 
that pays enough to live. 

The last place I worked paid less 
than scale ($10.24 an hour) because it 
wasn't covered by the Building Own- 
ers and Managers contract. Since I 
worked there less than the six months 
necessary to be considered "perma- 
nent" personnel, I got laid off when 
they reorganized the night janitors to 
cut maintenance costs. The "reorgan- 
ization" involved adding work that 
was once the responsibilty of "float- 
ers" to the already speeded-up 
schedule of the station janitors. As a 
floater, I had been assigned to 
scrubbing bathrooms (why they call a 
room where you go to smoke, shit or 
wash your hands a bathroom, I do not 
know). Sometimes I vacuumed furni- 
ture or cleaned air convectors in 
offices. All of these jobs are more or 
less undesireable, but better than 
being unemployed. At least, more 
lucrative. 

Sometimes, when a station janitor 
was sick I would have to do two 
complete floors. We all get sick a lot, 
probably because we're exposed to 
everybody's garbage and because 
they cut off the air conditioning at 
6:30 p.m. to save money, meaning we 
breathe the stale, dust-laden air all 
night. 



Janitor 



25 



The Union 

Everybody says the Union is gut- 
less. The president of the local 
(Service Employees Union Internatio- 
nal, Local 87) Wray Jacobs, is per- 
ceived as a real adversary by the 
bosses. He promised to clean up the 
job-seUing and favoritism in the 
Local, but it still goes on. Used to be 
that the secretaries and assistants up 
at the union office were all related to 
the Business Agents; their wives, 
girlfriends, whatever. It was common- 
ly believed that Jacobs had hired his 
own wife or something to a newly 
created position in the office. Union 
politics are perceived as the personal 



Kong. They also stick together, but 
they are a very conservative influence 
on the union. Only the new guys from 
Hong Kong, the Vietnamese or the 
other Southeast Asigms are very rebel- 
lious. The old Chinese are scared for 
their jobs, and hardly ever say 
anything to emybody. 

The smallest minorities are whites 
and blacks. Where I worked we had 
about twenty-five guys, two whites, 
two blacks, and the rest were Asian, 
Central American, or Arab. The other 
white guy used to tell me that now he 
knew what it was like to be black. The 
foremen were Spanish-speaking. 
They favored CAs from their own 



It's impossible to really ever accept the job of 
scrubbing shitters. 



domain of those people on the 
"inside." If you try and talk about it, 
look into what the recent history of the 
local is, you get a lot of vague answers 
from everyone involved. Jacobs was 
removed from office once for squan- 
dering union funds on an expensive 
telephone system and a computer to 
keep track of dues, etc. Dues doubled 
to pay for it. 

There are a lot of immigrant j ami- 
tors. Central Americans, Nicara- 
guans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, 
they tend to stick together and are a 
big force in the union. The janitors 
from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, 
North and South Yemen, Iran, Iraq 
stick together too, because they speak 
a language almost nobody else can 
understand. They can talk about the 
Supervisor with him standing right 
there, call him names, insult his 
mother, whatever — he understands 
nothing. A supervisor that speaks 
Far si tends to be a two-edged sword, 
he acts like a defender to the Arabs 
and ridicules them to the boss. 

The other major group is the 
Chinese, US-born, older immigrants, 
and new immigrants from Hong 



country (Nicaragua) and always saved 
the real shit work for the whites and 
blacks. 

The job market for janitors is so 
over-loaded with unemployed pro- 
duction workers that I have seen fist- 
fights at the Union Hall for a place in 
line to get on the sign-up roster. They 
changed the rules so as to eliminate 
that competitive aspect of job assign- 
ment, but there is always a crowd of 
people with that desperate I-gotta- 
get-a-job look in their eyes. 

I'm waiting in line to pay my dues. 
The phones in the office haven't 
stopped ringing since I arrived. The 
secretaries and assistants and Busi- 
ness Agents are apparently all gone 
somewhere. One young woman wear- 
ing a skirt and looking harrassed 
keeps answering them and saying 
"Local 87, hold please" "Local 87, 
hold please." As soon as she puts the 
phone on hold, the light goes out as 
the caller immediately hangs up and 
begins to re-dial. 

The woman running the dues com- 
puter looks like she sincerely wishes 
she had a job somewhere else. 
"Name and Social Security number." 



26 



Processed World 



I tell her. "Yah. You owe for January 
and February." I asked her if she 
would take a check. "Yah." I pay and 
go sign up on the roster. The young 
college kid behind the counter tells 
me that dispatching will be at 3:00 
p.m. at the picket line at such-an-such 
a place, where the Union contractor 
was recently replaced by a scab outfit 
from Washington State that exclu- 
sively employs Korean immigrants. 
We look at each other. 

"You run a buffer?" 

"You bet." 

"See ya at three." 

I have an unspoken understanding. 
I run a floor maintainer machine. He 
needs an operator, maybe I'll get the 
job, maybe he's bullshitting me. 

ONTHEJOB 

When we start work at 5:00 p.m., 
usually there are still secretaries and 
executives in the offices. Some of the 
offices have people working a swing 
shift using computers or Wgmg word- 
processors. Compared to ours, their 
job seems really free. They spend a 
lot of time talking on the phone and 
can drink coffee or a Coke whenever 
they feel like it. Day shift people are 
really condescending compared to 
swing shift office workers. They wear 
typical office clothes, little suits. 



the Mail Room but there is a limit. 
Sometimes we get around to how- 
much-do-they-pay-you-guys-anyway 
and some are shocked to find out they 
make less "than a janitor, for god- 
sakes!" But still and all, they are a 
hell of a lot nicer than even the most 
sympathetic executive-type. 

We can't use the phones at night — 
ten thousand phones and we have to 
go to the basement to make a phone 
call and race thirty other guys to be 
first. Personal emergencies have to 
wait — only hysterical calls with 
screaming children in the background 
get a foreman to take the elevator up 
to your floor 2ind tell you to go down 
and call your old lady. And if you 
leave to take the kid to the hospital, 
they bitch. 

I used to have a set routine, every 
night. I had figured out how to make a 
job look like IV2 hours of work when I 
could do it in a pinch in less than six. 
// 1 busted ass. // 1 did a crummy job. 
On a normal night I dumped trash for 
a couple of hours. It is one of the more 
disagreeable aspects of janitorial 
work, along with scrubbing shitters. 

People put all kinds of horrible stuff 
in their trash cans. It really offends 
the janitors. "How can they put coffee 
in a trash can? Don't they realize it 
gets all over us when we empty the 
can?' I hate those Cuppa Soup things 



' *Guys who wouldn't attend union meetings 
were willing to stab a foreman over a Walk- 
man radio/' 



heels, nylons. The night shift wears 
blue jeans and has less of a status- 
oriented attitude towards jeinitors. I 
guess they figure we aren't all that 
much below a Wang operator when all 
is said and done. But there is still this 
attitude of geez-I'm-glad-I'm-not- 
scrubbing-commodes-for-a-living that 
sort of lets you know that they might 
go out for a beer with the boys from 



and take-out Chinese most. It's sticky 
and messy, and after four or five 
hours (or over a weekend), it stinks. 
Trash tells a lot about people. 
Smokers are the worst, the can stinks 
like hell and it's real dirty and dusty. 
Our whole job would be easy £md 
relatively clean without coffee or cig- 
arettes in the office environment. Of 
course, without coffee and cigarettes. 



Janitor 



27 



^% 



\ 




Jesus Wants to Return 
As a Janitor 

He's going to clean this place up! 

To the Toilets of the Nation 
Spreading Words of Defacation 



s ' "^ 



His Words of Rodo-Rooter Wisdom 
r^—^=^ Will Flush Your Problems 
From His Kingdom 




\!' . 




Other Reasons 



Why Jesus Wants to Come Back: 



To Have Sex to walk on toilet water To Jog 



to Interface 



To Have Hot Fudge Sundaes 



First Church of Rodo Rooter 



most offices couldn't even function. 
While I dump the trash, I use a 
feather duster on the desk to snap off 
the worst of the dust and cigarette 
ashes and little round punchouts from 
loose-leaf binders and computer 
print-outs. 

I hate attorneys' offices. They treat 
their help terrible and as a result the 
whole office is a disaster every day, 
butts all over the place, papers and 
books piled everywhere. There's no 
satisfaction in cleaning an office that 
is still totally screwed up when you 
finish. Sometimes I find porno maga- 
zines and those girls! Girls! GIRLS! 
newspapers in the trash in big shots' 
offices. Janitors get unshockable after 
awhile. We see everybody s' dirty 
laundry. 

I read the trash, too. One major 
national company here in San Fran- 
cisco has its Customer Relations De- 
partment in its national headquarters. 
Basically it's a complaint department 
for the company's mediocre products, 
produced overseas by Third World 



wage slaves. The standard word-pro- 
cessed form letter is a real ass-kisser. 
"We're so sorry you were displeased 
with our blankety-blank, and sincere- 
ly regret blah blah blah. Please accept 
a case of our mixed blah-de-blahs 
with our sincerest apologies etc., 
etc." The second letter, in case this 
bozo writes back, is substantially less 
apologetic, especially if the com- 
plainant demanded money. The third 
letter states flat-out "We're turning 
over your letter to OUR ATTORNEYS 
and fuck you very much..." 

After I dump the trash another 
janitor picks it up in a freight elevator 
and hauls it down to a collection point 
in the sub-basement where the gar- 
bage truck comes to get it via the 
Sidewalk Elevator. A foreman always 
supervises this so the garbage guy 
doesn't run off with a couple of 
Selectrics or something. 

After dumping trash it's time to 
scrub the shitters. It's impossible to 
really ever accept this job. I've 
scrubbed a million of them, and I still 



28 



Processed World 




find it distasteful. People smoke in 

the shitter, so there is a fihn of 
tobacco smoke all over the walls and 
mirrors. The foreman comes around 
and rubs a towel over all the vertical 
surfaces emd if he finds grease, smoke 
or whatever you get a slip, or at least 
he bitches at you and you have to 
clean them again. 

For some reason the women throw 
paper on the floor around the com- 
modes. There is always water all over 
the place, too, and of course hair from 
hairbrushes thrown on the floor, 
make-up, etc. The little "sanitary" 
boxes in the stalls are rarely anything 
but, with all manner of junk in there 
besides sanitary napkins neatly 
wrapped in toilet paper. This means 
that the box has to be cleaned of 
mayonnaise, Coca-Cola or whatever 
else is spilled all over the inside. I C£in 
take Tampax, that's what the box is 
for, but I resent all the damned lunch- 
room garbage that requires extra time 
and effort to clean up. What kind of 
person eats their lunch in a toilet 
booth??? 

The men are no better. They piss on 
the floor around the urinals £uid it 
never enters their heads that it is 
their fault and they should bend down 



and wipe it up. Who trained these 

people in how to use a public restroom 
anyway? Is every man and woman in 
San Francisco a total slob in public 
restrooms? The last stall in line in 
every men's room is always the one 
with the Sports section of the Ex- 
Chron and usually the one with the 
sticky copy of Club magazine. How a 
grown man can masturbate in a public 
restroom during working hours is 
beyond me. I couldn't even do that as 
a kid, much less now. I always wonder 
who these guys are. Director of 
Marketing? Vice President in Charge 
of Bent Paperclips? The Mail Room 
kid? And of course, the butts. Always 
cigarette ashes and butts on the floor, 
sometimes booze bottles in the hand 
towel trash can. And why do men crap 
on the seat and fail to wipe it off? The 
women do, so what's wrong with the 
men? 

Does this strike you as a gross 
subject? Well, hoss, I deal with it 
every night in the flesh, and I'M 
FUCKING TIRED of nasty, inconsi- 
derate "superior" people shitting on 
the seat and then acting like there is 
something wrong with the service 
people who clean up their little 
"accidents." Believe me, if I fail to 



Janitor 



29 



clean up their little problem I defi- 
nitely hear about it! 

After lunch we usually vacuumed 
the rest of the night. You start in one 
corner of the office block and just pick 
a direction and start vacuuming. My 
arm used to hurt like hell from the 
muscle cramps. Once I got tendonitis 
from it. My wrist hurt like the 
dickens, and I could vacuum. They 
put me on garbage detail, hauling the 
heavy paper sacks of garbage thrown 
down to the pick-up area. 

While you're vacuuming you can 
hardly hear anything. Sometimes I 
used to turn around and find the 
foreman, watching me vacuum, with 
his arms crossed. I'd cut it off and ask 
him if I was doing a satisfactory job of 
running a damned vacuum and he'd 
just walk away. If you got caught 
sitting down, you'd be fired. If you 
got caught talking on the phone, 
reading, looking out the window, etc., 
you'd get suspended. 

Once, when we were buffing the 
hard floors in a transportation com- 
pany I opened a door to an office and 
caught two executives (one male, one 
female) making it on the desk. I just 
said excuse me and closed the door. 
They came out of there like a shot, 
staggering drunk £ind in disarray (she 
was patting her hair and murmuring 
over and over "You little bastard, you 
little bastard. . . " ) . I looked at the Cen- 
tral American guy with me and we 
both were thinking "Uh-oh, these 
guys are going to try and cover their 
asses by reporting us for something." 



The guy came back after a few 
minutes and tried to give us money. 
We wouldn't take it. The next day I 
expected to be fired for some bullshit 
story, but nothing happened. Of 
course, if anything like this had 
happened the other way around — 
Bam! we would have been fired in a 
heartbeat. 

I vacuumed straight, two and a half 
or three hours a night. Every night, 
five days a week. My forearms got 
quite strong. My ears rang from the 
noise because Commercial vacuum 
cleaners are built without any noise- 
reducing insulation. I understand that 
Hoover once marketed a soundless 
vacuum cleaner and it crashed be- 
cause people associate power with 
noise and thought it was wimpy. 

Janitors where I worked were once 
prohibited from wearing Walkman- 
type radios. They said it was too 
distracting and slowed down the 
work. After a while though, every- 
body was wearing them anyway and 
the Foremen were having some fairly 
hostile conversations with people so 
they got off that trip. It was building 
towards some genuine militant union 
activity, so they dropped it. I was sur- 
prised. Guys who wouldn't even 
attend union meetings were willing to 
stab a foreman over a Walkman radio. 
Well, they were willing to threaten to 
stab a foreman over it anyway. 

There is rarely any way to get a 
decent meal on the night shift. First 
we had a little coin-operated lunch- 
room, but it seems like the goddam 




30 



Processed World 



change machine was always out of 
order or there was nothing but 
sawdust sandwiches in the sandwich 
machine. Then there was the Pto- 
maine Truck. One of the best deals in 
town is the M & M Cafeteria that 
takes lunch orders by phone. If you 
really beat feet, you can get down to 
the M & M, wolf down your chow and 
get back within the lunch period. 
Dave lets you run a tab for meals and 
beer (he doesn't care if you drink your 
lunch). 

About a quarter of the guys I 
worked with were alcoholics and they 
drank everywhere. The guys with 
passkeys to various "secured" areas 
were the worst about stashing booze 
there or in telephone connection 
boxes. Most janitors had to make do 
with swilling down a six-pack on a 
thirty minute lunch period and then 
coasting until they could get off. I saw 
guys breaking out a pint on the way to 
their car, for crissake. The kids 
smoked dope. Stick your head out into 
the fire escape staircase anytime, and 
the fumes would dilate your eyes right 
there. 

Out of high school, no money for 
college, the kid gets a "good job" 
(i.e. one that pays a living wage) and 
when he looks up five years later he's 
locked in. It takes a tremendous effort 
to go to school and work full-time as a 
janitor. Everybody was doing about 
three or four different things at the 
same time, trying to start their own 
business, going to City College part- 
time, going to Auto Mechanics School 
at John O'Connell, something. 

People's personal lives were usual- 
ly talked about only when someone 
had a baby or a death in the family. If 
the person was popular, a collection 
was always taken up. If nobody liked 
the person, no collection — no matter 
what disaster befell him. Sometimes I 
felt like people's personal lives were 
better left undiscussed. 

One woman was happily describing 
her new boyfriend to me. They had a 
"nice, new apartment near Bay view" 



and he was a swell guy, "he's got a 
job and everything." I couldn't think 
of much to say to that — where the 
measure of a potential male spouse 
was whether or not he had a job. 
What about the other men in her life? 
They presumably sat around drinking 
Mad Dog 20/20 and talking about 
what kind of "ride" they was going to 
have, when the big break came. Down 
the line, you know? 

We had a few janitors who used to 
"be somebody" and were now sort of 
in "reduced circumstances." Some of 
the women janitors were divorcees 
who had been out of the office 
environment too long to be able to cut 
it, some just preferred to spend time 
during the day with their kids and left 
the rugrats with their husband or 
their mother while they worked at 
night. They had a tough deal, mainly 
working with men, isolated most of 
the time. It gets spooky in those 
buildings at night. They were jumpy 
and I don't blame them. Almost 
everybody carried knives for "scrap- 
ing carpet stains, ' ' and the Supervisor 
used to bitch like hell. If he caught 
you wearing a Buck knife in a belt 
pouch he'd make you take it off. He 
was scared of getting cut if he 
harrassed people too far and they 
went off on him. 

I had a couple of daytime jobs. I 
was relieving some older guy who had 
a ton of seniority and had worked his 
way (at last! ) to a daytime job with the 
contractor and was on vacation or 
something. You can't be a day janitor 
and maintain a bizarre appearance. 
Some places have uniforms for the 
janitors, some do not. If the employer 
requires uniforms he must provide 
them at no cost. He must also provide 
work gloves and some other clothing 
associated with the job. Try and get 
them! You'll immediately get laid off 
if you persist. Some places even frown 
on beards, or long hair or whatever. 

I always kind of liked the Bicycle 
Messengers since they are a crazy 

continued on page 35 






-RNAi 




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lored in the city? Try Silicon 
I Valley — Processed World did 
We toured the sun -chip 
peninsula, home of defense art 
[religious monuments, weapons 
control centers, fascion parks, 
and the people who made it all 
possible. Like the luxurious 
IRolm Corporation 



^^T'**^ 



801 M 



WThe Blue Cube — U.S. Air Force 

ilitary satellite control facility, k/ 

...Dn as the V 

"Ralm*Drairis 
dan 1 1 






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WffI 



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than outside - with several tiled-fountains and large plant-liketdecorations. We paraded 

^__^;:_,™..»-..x.<w«^^^-'^^^^ 4 ' around the glassed-in dis- 

. ptobe^ay^xampjiemSili^^ plays ;„ ^i^^ motion, pausing 

YO"I^"^"f fcSKT^ilf^^i .A.:WEjfSM Ji^ to stop and contemplate each 

*> like the locals. We dressed 

I ^ for the festive occasion to fit 

in to local custom — as large 

^ computer heads and over- 

w sized office supplies. Several 

^of us, dressed as young pro- 

fessionais, handed out WdA-/^ 

lets to the dazed crowd, „" " 

which said "Why Work?" 

^ ^Several Mall security em- ^ 
N^ployees joined the gathering. ^ 
Some kindly told us we were ^ 
violating the dress code, and 
suggested we should call intj^ /i 
advance for reservations be- 
fore we came again. 




HI! My name is: 

\\ 




they're showing in the stores 



Janitor 



35 



continued from page 30 
element in a uniformly dull world. But 
I have a message for all Bicycle 
Messengers from the Janitors: 
"Please stop writing graffitti where 
Bosses can see it. We have to clean it 
up, and usually it's not even very 
interesting graffitti. If you must write 
things in the elevators, hallways, etc., 
do it in indelible ink, so I won't have 
to scrub it. Pencil, crayon, and paint 
are no good. Use Marks-a-Lot. 
Thanks." 

Usually everybody ignores the Bi- 
cycle Messengers if at all possible, 
but when I work' days we always have 
something to say, hello, howzit goin' 
or whatever. Occasionally I get a 
negative response, but most acknow- 
ledge our common oppression with a 



nod or a grin or something. Even if 
pierced noses do freak me out a little, 
I still have more in common with a 
sweaty bicyclist than I do with some 
asshole who makes his living manipu- 
lating other peoples' lives. 

All of us, the Wang operator, the 
VDT jockey, the receptionist, file 
clerk, temp, janitor, engineer and 
even the bicycle messenger (hey, 
buddy, he's radio dispatched. Do you 
need a radio to stay in minute-by- 
minute communication with where 
you work?) are all victims of / vital 
components of / supporters of / 
plotters against the system of modern 
business life (if you can call this shit a 
life). I'm up for it. Unplug the fuckin' 
system. 




I'm in the shit business 

I work for the sewerage department 

I analyse experiments 

I draw graphs and flow charts 

and conclusions 

today I was sitting at my desk 

trying to explain 

the dissolved air floatation process 

where streams of little bubbles are released 

into a tank full of sewerage 

to float the suspended solids up to the surface 

to be skimmed off 

but what I was really thinking about 

was lunchtime 

the canteen cook 

caters to the ethnic multitudes 

by putting on Italian eats most days 

I was thinking of ravioli 

with meat sauce 

but I was writing things like 

"The sludge produced by this process 

is grey-brown in colour 

and does not produce 

offensive odours 

provided anaerobic conditions 

can be prevented" 

the sludge is really composed of 

my used ravioli 

and the Boss's used steak 

and your used hamburger 

and the vegetarian's used brown rice 



all mixed up together 

and when it gets in this state 

no one wants to know about it 

except me 

I don't find shit offensive 

most people do 

they can't wait to push the button 

or pull the chain or something 

and then they think the shit has vanished 

into the centre of the earth 

it hasn't really 

it just floats up somewhere else 

However 

it's all biodegradable 

I reckon most people think 

that shit is the most deadly poison 

on the face of the earth 

they'd rather face ten tons of plutonium 

than half a bucket of shit 

even their own 

no curse in the English Language 

is complete 

without "shit" included in it somewhere 

lunchtime arrived 

I ate my ravioli 

I had a shit 

it was brown in colour 

I felt a lot better , , ., rx i 

by Jas H. Duke 

(reprinted from 925, a now-defunct 
Australian workers' magazine 



36 



Processed World 




Robots Unionized by Company 



Should robots pay union dues? This 
question came up recently among 
union members at Fujitsu Fanuc, one 
of Japan's leading robot manufac- 
turing companies. 

After losing many of its members to 
robots at a plant in central Japan, the 
union announced that it faced bank- 
ruptcy. Then management came up 
with a novel idea: it would pay union 
dues for each robot and keep the 
union on its financial feet. The union 
readily agreed. 

The idea quickly spread to other 
unions in Japan. But soon the govern- 
ment axed the idea on the grounds 
that the dues amounted to corporate 
donations to unions — illegal in 
Japan. A Ministry of Labor Spokes- 
person said, "robots are not con- 
sidered to be human. As a result, if 
fees are paid to the union's funds on 
behalf of robots, this would be 
defined as financial assistance from 



■nanagement." 

The government decision dis- 
pleased the union. "There are now 
only 700 union members, and our 
finances are in trouble," the union 
chairperson said. "We would like to 
see parUament change the law. We 
want to see robots join the unions." 

— from Business Asia 3/12/82 
immmmmmmmmmMmmhimhhmmmmmim 

On J uly 7th, 1983, I learned to make this symbol 
on a Xerox 860 word processor: 

M 

It is the symbol of mystery incarnate, 

of mystery riding drunk down a tree-lined road 

in autumn at 100 miles an hour, 

J ean Rhys behind the wheel, Isadora Duncan 
dragging along behind the red Ferrari, 
singing Bessie Smith songs. 

by David Steinberg 



DOWNTIME! 



37 




It's important to keep in mind that ail data 
storage systems are based on electromag- 
netic techniques, including the ubiquitous 
disks. Commonplace electromagnetic 
fields are quite capable of destroying the 
data on them, fields such as those emitted 
by cathode ray tubes, refrigerators, 
stereos, etc., etc. Wouldn't it be handy to 
keep those floppies on top of the VDT for a 
nice long period? Or how about keeping 
them on top of the fridge? Not to mention 
what a little folding, bending and mutilating 
can do. 

Some other tried-and-true methods of 
dealing with the greater powers include 
program lines (in BASIC here, though I can 
supply the machine language for those who 
want it), such as: "IF xxx = yyy THEN 
PRINT CHR$)4), 'DELETE (or INIT) file- 
name" ". That one can be used as a time 
bomb, for example, if xxx is the number of 
files, and yyy is the top number of those that 
can be stored. That way the file isn't deleted 
until it is completely full. 



Connecting and disconnecting parallel 
and serial cables and interface cards with 
the power on is always fun for the kids, too. 

Reset buttons can provide a lot of 
amusement. Try hitting one while booting 
DOS sometime. On some, though not all 
machines, the results can scramble DOS 
and the internal monitor. It's even more 
effective if you take out the disk when you do 
this, 'cause when the drive resets to Track 
and finds nothing there, you have the added 
possibility of wiping it out, too. 

The true saboteur never wears rubber 
soled shoes to work. Good old static 
electricity discharged from the fingertips 
probably accounts for close to half the disks 
and computers wiped out or down every 
year. 

Be sure to write on the label on the disk 
with a ball-point pen. That hard point, with 
just a leetle pressure, can do the job. 

There is also a huge number of taboo 
commands available in the CPU depending 
on which one is used. Withe the 6502, for 




38 



Processed World 



example, you can make listing invisible, 
make listings repeat the initial line 
infinitely, hide the catalog, make the 
running of a program cause the computer to 
reset, and many other fun projects to 
numerous to list here. One of my personal 
favorites is the one that limits the video 
display to the right or left half of the screen. 

The truly dedicated antiworker who isn't 
afraid to take some risk can always bring a 
charged electromagnet to work, or plug in 
some version of the Tesia coil at work, and 
have loadsandloadsof fun — withthedisks, 
the VDTs, and the computers themselves. 

Most business installations have external 
clocks attached to either the individual units 



or the networks and are left on continuously . 
That has a great potential for internal 
register instructions peggged to off-hour 
settingstoshut down the equipment during 
runtimes, delete files, insert bugs, etc. 

Those strange keys in differetn colors 
with names like F1, F2, etc., are grand 
potential allies. They are programmable 
function keys, and can be set to do a variety 
of things with only a minimal knowledge of 
programming. 

That's a few suggestions to play with, 
maybe giving you some further ideas of your 
own. Good luck. 

Power to the Processor. 
Igor 




In May and June a local college radio 
station in San Francisco, KUSF, re- 
peatedly played ''Public Service An- 
nouncements'' encouraging parents 
to "protect their children'' by having 
their kids fingerprinted by the local 
police. In response to these idiotic 
messages, sponsored by such upstan- 
ding members of SF's business com- 
munity like ' 'Strategic Design Consul- 
tants" and others, PW sent in this 
counter-message. For reasons un- 
known, KUSF refused to play it^ 

The folks at Processed World 
magazine would like to register their 
disapproval of the many public ser- 
vice announcements advocating the 
fingerprinting of small children. If 
you have a child who disappears, the 
truth is that no amount of documenta- 
tion — be it fingerprints, voice prints, 
or brain wave patterns — will get that 
child back. At best such records might 
help identify a dead body. The 
creators of these ads are exploiting 
parents' fear of losing their children 
to encourage enrollment of children in 
the ever-expanding data network. 
This information in the hands of any 
police or government bureaucracy will 
ultimately be used against the people 
it is supposedly helping. 

The best protection against kid 




stealers is to educate children not to 
readily obey the demands of stran- 
gers, or any arbitrary authority, as 
well as developing a network of family 
and neighbors to share the safe- 
guarding of our children. 

Fingerprinting, and other biometric 
systems which measure unique biolo- 
gical characteristics, are not a solu- 
tion, and only serve to numb people to 
the reality of government and cor- 
porate surveillance and control of our 
personal lives. 

DON'T FINGERPRINT 
YOUR CHILDREN! 



Ms Meg 



bulbul 




YES SIR. YOUR tA^I^O ■ (^ERE ONE BIG 
HAPPY FAMILY... NO NEED FOR M/OA^EN 
TO 0/^6ANIZ£) IS BEIMG CIRCULATED. 



Your favorite gay leaders invite you to: 



NITE 



THE 




AT 



BATHS 



Acquired Surveillance-System Efficiency Syn- 
drome (ASSES) is sweeping our community with 
guilt and repression. Spread by intimate contact In 
the seedy backrooms of politicians and bureau- 
crats, ASSES threatens to deprive us of our civil 
rights. Its victims — typically promiscuous 
politicians — are overwhelmed by delusions of 
superiority and the need to police other people's 
behavior. There is no known cure for ASSES once 
it strikes. 



Experts on ASSES will be available to answer 

questions like: 

' What do I do when they declare my apartment an 

official health hazard?" 
"When the baths become 'health' clubs who will 

make sure the only thing we pump is iron?" 
"How can I buy condoms without my friends 

thinking I'm straight?" 
"Do I need to take my bodily fluids to a toxic waste 

dump?" 



Fortunately, we have all the answers and know 
what's best for you. At this intensive one-night 
workshop, your favorite gay leaders will offer their 
own lives as models for you to follow. You can 
survive sex in the age of Big Brother: 

ly/lental masturbation — the hands-off approach 
Phone sex — anonymity with safety, the best of 

both worlds 
Coping — feel better by guilt-trlpping others 
Obey autfiority — who needs S/M?... the 
bureaucrats and politicians will give you all 
the discipline you need 
PLUS: "Getting Off by Getting Votes" — an 
alternative to sex from SF's favorite gay 
supervisor. 



V.V 



si^ 



.sse^ 



V>e' 



,\o»® 



\\c^^* 



(P.S. Wondering what it all leads to? You don't 
oS* have to swallow it. Laws, regulations, vice squads, and politicians 
never solve problems, they are the problem. We can make our 
community a safe and healthy place to live without their help. If 
you're concerned, speak up — a message from Housewives for Safe 
Sex, P.O. Box 11622, San Francisco, CA 94101.) 



40 



Processed World 




On Thursday 29th March the 2nd 
Stop The City demo took place all over 
the City of London. . . a protest against 
war and arms profits, exploitation and 
rape of the earth, of women, and of 
animals. It was a protest against 
Capitalism itself. 

Although 444 people were arrested 
and many beaten up most people 
agreed it was a good demo, full of life 
and action. The media portrayed it as 
masterminded by sinister 'black-clad 
anarchists'. Certainly it was anarchist 
in its form of organization. There 
were NO leaders, each group and 
person was self-responsible... the 
'coordination group' saw their role 
merely as to publicize, organize legal 
briefings, etc. 

• During the night hundreds of 
banks and other businesses had their 
locks glued up. Banners were put ud 



proclaiming the event. Graff itti was 
quickly removed. A statue of Queen 
Victoria at Blackfriars was paint 
bombed, etc. 

• A woman pig threw back an 
orange smoke bomb but hit another 
cop. A photo of her throwing it hit the 
front page of The Evening Standard, 
and later most national papers. 

• Many hundreds of cars were 
damaged, most of them punctured 
with awls and home-made tire stab- 
bers. A Rolls Royce got smashed up 
when punks began dancing on it. 

All day long people kept throwing 
themselves in the street. 

{Excerpted from CROWBAR... the 
full text is joyfully descriptive, well 
worth reading, and is available 
through Processed World, 55 Sutter 
St. m29, SF 94104) 

TX ' 




london 

'84 



r^^^ 





DOWNTIME! 



41 



FREEWAY INCIDENT 



SIRENS 

Reveille me from my morning thoughts 

As they proclaim an accident ahead 

Some minutes later traffic slows 

We almost stop to watch 

The twisted metal, glass and blood 

As men with torches extricate 

Those hurt and killed • 

Inside their metal cages. * 

I share my sadness in the traffic 

With the people 

Who are all tied up and late for work. 

Somehow we're quite removed from this dramatic incident 

And one another 

As we look and see. 

Our brothers 

Dead here on the freeway 

They were just like us 

A part of morning traffic 

Now they're gone 



As we the living gaze about us 
On our way to work 
We're numbed 
And slowed by fate 
Not even birds to sing out here 
Above the concrete. 
The incident's an hour old now. 
Helicopters overhead » * 

Survey the scene for local morning news 
KMOX informs commuters • 

Threefare injured, ^pH^^^^^ *; 

Their families don'A^nc^^pt. 

• A state poli^^^^%aves us on ♦ , 

HTe looks a little sick""""* 

% * 

And sorry he is here -"-- - ^ 

As he in finger flinging motions tell us. 
Keep it moving • 

GalQ. wi^k ^"^ » 

Joppirig" up the traffic 
r looking • • 

oving 
sTio time to think out he 

Just keep it moving. • 

• 
At the office , » 

I tell fellow workers of the wreck 
And of the deaths 
Then later, at my desk 

feel my life is being wasted 
As I sell my hours ' 
Into this banal high-rise prison 





Maybe I should quit 

And get my assets off the freeway. 

by Willie The Rat 



THE CHIPB ^nE DQirn) 




They're selling women the high 
tech revolution the same way they've 
sold us previous industrial revolu- 
tions: 

1) New technology is gender blind: 
computers don't discriminate against 
the sex or race of their user. 
Likewise, computerized production 
removes physical strength barriers- 
to-entry into certain occupations. 

2) Women can get new jobs in high 
tech industries if we overcome our 
mathphobias, cyberphobias, and train 
ourselves for a high tech occupation. 

3) The application of high tech to 
household appliances will mean a 
reduction of housework for women. 

4) High tech (via teletravail, or 
"home computer outwork") can en- 
able women to resolve the difficulties 
of juggling labor market work with 
household work (our classic double 
burden): a computer terminal in the 
home eliminates the need for costly 
commuting, costly child care, costly 
clothes for going to work... The pitch 
ends with a thinly veiled threat: 

If women miss the boat this time, 
it's second-class citizenship for ano- 
ther century, since low-tech jobs are 



going to be exported to the lowest 
wage countries and overall rising 
unemployment will mean jobs for only 
the most qualified workers in the 
market. 

It's all wrapped up in that rhetorical 
question, "why fight progress?" But 
this is not really a rhetorical question. 
The desire for progress is a basic 
human desire. Yet we must be critical 
about what it actually means. Despite 
the appearance of progress, high tech 
represents, more than anything else 
the reconstruction of domination: new 
technology bears the sexist/classist 
imprint of its designers. (Recall the 
story of Robinson Crusoe — stranded 
on his island, he "invents" techno- 
logy and re-invents his old system of 
domination as well (if we remember 
Friday.) 

For women, the high tech revolu- 
tion means a return to the household, 
with its traditional, as well as some 
new, methods of control. We're pro- 
mised progress — liberation from 
housework and some sex-role flexibi- 
lity in the work that remains. What we 
seem to be getting, however, is new 
technology that is designed to keep 



The Chips are Down 



43 



women doing just as much housework 
as ever. There will be higher stan- 
dards for some of the old tasks 
(planning the family diet, budget) 
new work in the care and upkeep of 
the new technology, more self-service 
work. There will be more "caring" 
work as safety issues arise — the 
chemical and electrical hazards in the 
home are compounded with more 
devices and with more time spent in 
the home using the devices by various 
family members. Since most house- 
work historians agree that "increased 
family size" has the largest impact on 
the increase of housework, the in- 
creased use of the home by all family 
members for educational, recreational 
and work activities (on the home 
computer, for example) will probably 
have the same effect on housework as 
having a larger family. The "elec- 
tronic cottage" will need a lot more 
upkeep than the "empty nest." 

Likewise, given the limited scale of 
production in housework, it is absurd 
to suggest there will be efficiency 
gains from microprocessor-equipped 
domestic appliances (recall the wash- 
ing machine in El Norte...). Instead, 
housework history repeats itself: we 
are not supposed to use the new 
technology to do less work, but to do 
"better" work. Consider the Sanyo 
ad: 

' ' With a Sanyo she can cook meals 
till the cows come home, never mind 
the rest of the family... Preparing 
three or four different meals a night is 
simply a pleasure with Sanyo. Every- 
one can eat what they want, when 
they want, with perfect results every- 
time. "[1] 

Or take the case of Japan's "latest 
leap forward": the talking microwave 
oven. This blatantly useless inno- 
vation does carry on the old sexist 
structures — it gives instructions in a 
male voice. As a company exec ex- 
plains, "Matsushita Electric ovens 
have male voices... because women 
resent other women telling them what 
to do. "[2] 



Sure. 

Or we can consider that ultimate 
fantasy — the housework robot. Now 
industry analysts have emphasized 
that this won't be a cost-efficient in- 
novation in the forseeable future, so 
we can shelve that fond hope, but the 
prototypes they have built are omi- 
nous. "One such machine, described 
by the Guardian in 1978, comes 
'complete with a skirt' and is 'made 
small so as not to be intimidating' . " I 
am suggesting that new technology 
offers no progress for women in 
housework reduction but it will mean 
a cementing of sexist stereotypes of 
women and perhaps sharpened class 
differences in modes of housework. 

But let us move on to the "final 
solution" to the woman question: the 
"electronic cottage" scenario (paid 
labor via computer terminal in the 
household) or teletravail, as the 
French call it. Here's the idea: 
employers will rent computer termi- 
nals to women workers to use in their 
homes, so they can save on commu- 
ting costs, childcare costs, clothing 




44 



Processed World 



costs — and can juggle in the house- 
work with the childcare and the paid 
work. Since it's computer work, it can 
be paid on a piecework basis, with the 
worker paid only for the hours she's 
logged on, by accounts processed, 
etc. The ideologues of the electronic 
cottage scenario (Toffler, for exam- 
ple) refer to it as sex-neutral, but 
every country that has experimented 
with teletravail has done it with 
female workers primarily or exclu- 
sively. [3] 

One decent thing about pink collar 
jobs is that you spend your time 
around other women. But the elec- 
tronic cottage scenario aims to plant 
women back in the isolation of the 
nuclear family. No wonder it is part of 
the New Right agenda in America — I 
refer to Georgia Republican Gin- 
grich's Family Opportunity Act giving 
tax credits to famiUes buying home 
computers "which would strengthen 
neighborhoods and allow mothers 
with pre-school children to earn a 
living while staying at home." Ac- 




cording to Mattera, the Moral Major- 
ity praises home work "as a way for 
women to earn some money without 
neglecting their families. "[4] 

How much money? Mattera cites 
figures for a Blue Cross "cottage 
keyers" program, where a women 
nets $100 for a fifty hour work week, 
with no fringe benefits. [5] Here the 
real meaning of the electronic cottage 
scenario emerges: By eliminating the 
need for a shared workplace, busi- 
nesses can disperse the workforce in 
order to strengthen control over it. 
Alone in their homes, ignorant of each 
others' existence, workers can hardly 
compare wage rates or build solidarity 
with each other. 

Far from representing "progress," 
new technology reconstructs sexism 
and refines class domination in a way 
completely consistent with its perfor- 
mance for the last century of capitalist 
control. Women have to take these 
historical constants into account in 
order to tear off the figleaf of the myth 
of progress. For women, technologi- 
cal change has always been sold as a 
means of opening our entry into fields 
where we'd been excluded, due to 
"physical handicaps": the linotype 
was going to bring us equality just 
like the word processor is supposed 
to. Housework technology has al- 
ways been sold to us as a way of 
reducing housework: washers and 
vacuum cleaners were promoted as 
labor-savers, just like food processors 
and microwave ovens — but time 
spent in housework never declined. 
Now it is a measure of our desperation 
that we are so ready to believe each 
new proclamation of progress, but we 
will always be disappointed if we 
forget who has designed our new 
technology and what ends they had in 
mind. 

WHA T SHOULD BE DONE? 

The first step is essential and com- 
plicated but can be stated simply: 



The Chips are Down 



45 



WILLING WORKER 

ALERT, efficient household servant to run 
errands, order supplies, deliver messages 
to a large and growing list of people. 

OTHER DUTIES: Stand guard for an 
emergency. Be ready to summon doctor, 
police, file department. Make it possible for 
many other people to keep in touch with you. 

FAST, completely trustworthy and willing 
to serve twenty-four hours a day, 365 days 
a year. No vacations. No time off. Pay — 
less than a cent an hour. 





JL 



Who Could This 
Wonder Worker Be? 

^^ THE WIFE, 
of course! 



through technological change. This is 
especially important for women: since 
we need improvements so badly, we 
are much more easily conned. But 
after the loss of innocence, it is 
important to avoid the excesses of 
cynicism that seem to inform the 
trade unions and the left liberal 
economists who advise them. Berke- 
ley's Stephen Cohen lays out the 
issues: 



''It's a nasty little choice. Factory 
automation will result in a net loss of 
factory jobs. But if we don't auto- 
mate, then there will be a massive 
hemorrhaging. If we lose the ability to 
be efficient manufacturers, then 
we 've blown our economic future. "[8] 

And the union response? Here's 
Murray Seeger, informatin director 
for the AFL-CIO: ''We're not Lud- 
dites. It would nice to have 20 people 



46 



Processed World 



working in a shop instead of five, but 
to have five people earning a good 
American union wage is better than 
having none. "[9] And if there's only 
five jobs to hand out, you can imagine 
how many Mr. Seeger would allocate 
to his "male breadwinners." 

Or consider Bluestone's comments 
on the 90% automated Macintosh 
plant in Fremont, California: "The 
people in Fremont are at least 
spending money here. The typical 
Taiwanese worker doesn 't spend a lot 
in the Fremont McDonald's. "[10] 

While the leftist economists are 
resurrecting their multiplier theories 
of spending and union leaders are re- 
igniting protectionist battles to hold 
onto plants that'll be 90% automated 
anyway, none of them are capable of 
admitting that there are no viable 
solutions to the high tech problem. 
Instead of getting even defensive 
strategies we get what could be called 
"gallows humor": the Times' Em- 
ployment Outlook in High Technology 
ran articles with titles like, "As Pol- 
lution Widens, Need for Specialists to 
Fight Grows." 

If we find that the unions and the 
academic types aren't giving us 
leadership on this question, we can 
think about more traditional recourses 
of the powerless, particularly sabo- 
tage. This is not only the classic 
response of those with no other 
options, it may also be the effective 
and appropriate response to the type 
of technological revolution we face. 
The old Luddites could never stop the 
automatic technologies by smashing 
the ones they got their hands on — 
but "hackers," "raiders," and data 
processors can challenge this new 
technology. They can limit the accur- 
acy and effectiveness of computer 
control systems, either in their design 
or implementation of programs. 
Through information-trespass and 
time-theft they can attack the profit- 
ability of these systems (in ways the 
Luddites never could...). While this is 
reported in the media as either 



adolescent game-playing or heavy 
white collar crime, the head of one 
computer disaster company states 
frankly: "Direct vandalism is a big 
problem. "[11] 

Sabotaging high tech won't suffice, 
however. We will need to address this 
still unfulfilled desire for progress, 
which can only happen if we can begin 
to reconstruct the Utopian imagination 
for ourselves — taking back our 

f"'"''^^- - B. Berch 

This is excerpted from a longer article. 




Remote control switch 



NOTES 

1. Huws, Ursula, Your Job in the 
Eighties: A Woman's Guide to New 
Technology (Pluto Press, 1982) p. 93. 

2. "The Trouble With Talking Micro- 
waves," Wall Street Journal, April 
29, 1982 

3. Monod, E., "Le teletravail ou 
I'Arbre qui Cache la Foret," Les 
Temps Modernes, #477, Octobre, 
1983. 

4. P. Mattera, "Home Computer 
Sweatshops," The Nation, April 2, 
1983, p. 392. 

5. Ibid. 

6. "Insuring against Computer Foul- 
Ups," and "When Computer Disaster 
Strikes," Business Week, 9-6-82. 

7. "Now We Can Move Office Work 
Offshore to Enhance Output," Wall 
Street Journal, 6-9-83. 

8. "Employment Outlook in High 
Technology," New York Times sup- 
plement, 3-25-84, Thomas Hayes, 
"Dealing with Overseas Job Com- 
petition." p. 5. 

9. Ibid. 

10. David Sanger, "New Plants May 
Not Mean New Jobs," NYT, 3-25-84. 

11. "When Computer Disaster 
Strikes," Business Week, 9-6-82, 
p.68. 




The sun shone in love upon Me as I 

sprang from the bus, dietary sand- 
wich in hand, lean, muscular shoul- 
ders back. My intense blue eyes 
frying away the early morning mist. 

It was My last day under the em- 
ployment of Crown Plumbing Supply. 
As I bravely walked the half-block 
to work, the wind whipping My red 
silk cape behind Me, I pondered over 
the deep significance of My Clerkship 
with Crown Supply. My keen, photo- 
graphic memory returned to the end 
of My first day there, three days 
earlier. 

"My God, what have you done!?" 
Colin Lavage, My supervisor, had 
cried when he beheld My sublime ac- 
complishment. 

What I had accomplished was the 
total refiling of all Crown Company 
records into one single series of 
drawers; billing invoices, cash sales 
slips, receipts, freight bills, delivery 
tickets, Dun and Bradstreet credit 
ratings, shipping registers, miscel- 
laneous scratchings, all in one simple 
A-Z series of file cabinets. With this 
New System (My name) I had saved 
space and unified the business of the 
whole Company in one Cosmic Ex- 
pression of Universal Love. The only 
exception to this was the customer 
complaints, which I had displayed in a 
large open box, right next to the front 



entrance. 

"Burchfield!" Colin spluttered. 
"How are we supposed to find any- 
thing if You've put it all in one stack 
of drawers!?" 

"That's your problem," I coun- 
tered cleverly. "If you cannot see the 
Great Thing I have accomplished, 
then I must number you with the 
blind... oh, by the way, the name is 
Clerk. Clerk Kent." 

"You won't get away with this!" 
Colin bleated, moving towards Me in 
his puny threatening manner. 

"Oh yes!?" I retorted. "Remember 
Crane Iron Company!" 

I had outflanked Colin. He stiffened 
up like a plank, as two more inches of 
his receding hairline leaped to its 
death. He had heard how Crane Iron 
had burned to the ground after 
tampering with My filing system. 

"Come on, Colin!" I cried trium- 
phantly. "Admit it! You've never had 
it so good!" 

That and other great memories 
flashed through My brilliant percep- 
tive mind that day. Courageously, I 
burst through the front doors. Un- 
fortunately, one of them snapped off 
its hinges, but such are the risks in 
hiring the Strong, the Brave and the 
True! 

I benevolently gazed down upon the 
rumple-chested switchboard-recept- 



48 



Processed World 



ionist and intoned: 

"Good morning, Ms. Fleshchest!" 

"Good morning," she replied, just 
glancing over My handsome features. 
I knew it was hard for her to look at 
Me for too long. 

"Nice day!" she murmured in awe. 

"Thank you!" I returned gracious- 

ly- 

On My way to put My lunch in the 
refrigerator, I ran into Roger Lar- 
gesse. 

"Ah, Roger!" I said loudly. "Good 
morning! Going to the bathroom!? 

My sharp probing question caught 
him off guard. 

"Ah yeah... guess so...." Roger 
was a little man with a moustache that 
collected mold in wet weather. 

"Have a happy toilet!" I cried, 
patting him indulgently on the head 
as he scurried away. When you're as 
wonderul as I am, you don't have to 
go to the bathroom! 

My lunch stored away, I strode 
authoritatively back to the office to 
seek My replacement. Colin Lavage 
greeted Me with a curt "Good 
morning" to cover his awe and 
adoration of Me. Reverently, he 
handed Me a stack of computer print- 
outs to be filed in a place secret to all 
but Me. 

"Tad — I mean Clerk! Please tell 
me where You file these print-outs! I 
can't find them!" 

"That's just the point," I said. 
"It's bad enough Me knowing where 
they are, without letting the whole 
world in on it!" Colin sighed petu- 
lantly. "I've noticed Colin," I con- 
tinued, "that you are going totally 
bald. Have you considered wearing a 
wig?" 

Colin whined, whirled and marched 
indignantly to the men's room. I 
pitied him. I knew he had come a long 
way down from assistant to the assis- 
tant manager at Woolworth's lingerie 
department. At one time he had been 
proud of his virility, until he dis- 
covered it was the result of a prostate 
infection. 



His secretary, Elvira Mudd, 
waddled out to hand Me a batch of 
freight bills. 

"You know, Elvira," I said confi- 
dentially, "if you didn't eat so much 
the others wouldn't call you a fat tub 
of guts behind your back!" 

She burst into self-indulgent tears 
and lumbered to the ladies room. 
Some people just can't take the Truth! 
Whenever I give them a dose, they 
always hide in the bathroom! 

I easily zapped the freight bills into 
the file and turned to see My replace- 
ment coming in the front door. It was 
eight-oh-five. By eight-thirty she 
reached my desk, twenty feet further 
on. By her posture, I could tell she 
was into bondage. She walked like a 
three-legged turtle and possessed the 
face that sank a thousand ships. She 
was so slow, she collected dust 
wherever she went. 

"Don't bother telling Me your 
name," I said. "I can't be bothered 
with remembering it anyway. Mine's 
Clerk Kent! Don't forget that now!" 

She started out in her new position 
by filing My fingernails in one of the 
drawers. Not one to let such assaults 
go unnoticed, I subtly reached down 
the front of her turtleneck sweater, 
ripped out her bra and decoratively 
draped it around her neck. I then set 
her to filing away a few credit notices. 

Knowing that would take her a few 
hours, I visited Lenore Drudge, 
Crown's token black typist. Our re- 
lationship was particularly intimate. I 
casually suggested some skin treat- 
ments she could look into. 

"It would lighten you up!" I said 
cheerfully, "Because you know dear, 
you don't match the office decor!" 

"Honky," she said calmly, "why 
the hell d'Ya have a big 'S' in the 
middle of Your chest?" 

"Because I'm wonderful!" I re- 
plied. 

"And those leotards... blue and 
red... are You gay?" 

"Lenore," I said gently, "if I told 
you anymore, I don't think you could 



A Deluge of Grandeur 



49 




URBAN JUNGLE: The snakes are living the 

take it!" 

She handed Me a shiny, sharp 
letter opener. "Here honey, just slip 
that up Your dirt road and wiggle it a 
bit, huh?" 

Though it meant ripping a hole in 
My tights, her advice was well taken. 

The President of Crown Plumbing 



most unbridled technology" — R. Maggi 

joined us. I do a fantastic imper-. 
sonation of him and I performed it 
right there for the very first time. He 
got so mad, his teeth rattled right out 
on the floor. Wow! Hairlips are 
sensitive people! 

Finally, it was time to go. I, in My 
Godly fashion, had done all I could to 



50 Processed World 

3»»»»»»»»a»»»»»»0»»»»»S» RESUME 3»»»»0»»»»»»»»»»»»3»»0» 

John Pyros, 139 Maple Avenue, Palm Coats, Florida, USA 

Born: to Caucasoid-ethnic slaves; Anastasia Kalograpkos and Andreas Pyros January 
19, 1931, Hartford, CT USA 

Education: 

Chauncey Harris Public School for Gifted Slave Children (CT) 1936-45 

Long Island City (NY) High School for Slave-children, 1945-49. 

Brooklyn College Institute for House Nigger Studies, (NY( 1949-53, Baccalaureate 

House Nigger (BHN.) 
New York University for Advanced Studies in House Niggerism, (NY) 1957-63, 

Master of House Niggerisms, (MHN.) 
New York University for Higher Advancement in House Niggerisms, (NY) 1967-73, 

Doctor of House Niggerisms (Hn.D.) 

Work Experience — Field Nigger: 

Clean-up Boy, Hillary's Ice Cream Parlor, (Phil. PA) 1976. 
Life Guard, Bayville (NY) Public Beach for Niggers, Summer 1952-53. 
Stock Boy, John Dough Manufacturing Company (NYC), Summer 1950. 
Stock Boy, Speigles, (NYC), Summer 1949. 

Work Experience — House Nigger: 

Instructor, Pasco-Hernando College for House Niggers, (FL) 1977. 

Associate Professor, Cumberland College (NJ) for Field and House Nigger Trades, 

1971-73. 
Assistant Professor, University of Alabama for White Niggers, 1970-71. 
Assistant Professor, Lincoln University (PA) for Black Niggers, 1968-70. 
Assistant Professor, Southern University (OA) for Black Niggers, 1966-67. 

Awards: 

Southern Fellowship Grant for Deserving House Niggers, 1968. 
The Michael Jones Memorial Foundation for Aspirant Nigger Playwrights, Summer 
1963. 

Publications: 

"The Work Ethic Credo Among Field Niggers," Bi-Atlantic Monthly, May 1983. 
"Transitions from Field to House Nigger," Commontarey, April 1980. 
"Contrasts and Comparisons of Concentration Camp Life in Urban and Rural 

Environs," New York Diemes, August 11, 1970. 
"House Nigger Careers as Lawyers, Doctors and Teachers," American Association 

of Nigger Education, June 1978. 
"Upward Mobility Within the Concentration Camp," Washington Posed, June 2, 

1978. 
"Status of Brokers, Maitre Di's and Other Waiter Trades," White Negoid/Black 

Caucasoid, August 1976. 
"A Study of Selected House Nigger Courses at the Harvard School of Business," 

Bulletin of House Nigger Education, March 1976. 
"Protocol for House Niggers Among Plantation Masters," House Nigger Beautiful, 

January 1976. 
"Careers in Concentration Camps While Awaiting the Gas Chamber," Happy 

Solutions, July 1975. 
"Gold and Tennis: the House Nigger's Foot in the Old Man's Door?" Sports- 
Nigger, May 1975. 
"Subtle Ways to Mime the Master," Nigger-knees, July 1973. 
"The Art of Shuck and Jive," House-nigger Arts-Culture, November 1973. 



A Deluge of Grandeur 



51 



save Crown Plumbing Supply and 
now they were on their own. Sadly, 
tragically, it was over. By their 
granite faces, I could tell the others 
felt the same profound loss. I turned 
to bid a final adieu to them all... but 
there was a catch in My throat. My 
peanut butter and horseradish sand- 
wich had been a bit dry. I just could 
not do it! And I knew they could not 
take it! When you have to say 
good-bye to Me, words are inade- 
quate! 

I Hfted My head, squared My 
shoulders and, whistling an upbeat 
Burchfield Uber Alles, departed. 

I go from clerk job to clerk job, each 



one different yet each one the same. 
But, in My big heart, there is still a 
soft spot for Crown Plumbing Supply. 
Walking along the city streets, kick- 
ing senior citizens and other weirdos 
who step on My cape, I often come 
upon freight trucks from the very 
shipping firms who, through Crown 
Plumbing Supply, I had saved from 
bankruptcy. When I see them, it is 
revealed to Me that Crown Plumbing 
Supply deeply misses Me and have 
sent the trucks out just to be sure that 
I am safe! 

— Thomas Burchfield 




!k\fio^ 



o«^ 



tVi»^ 



•mdov''- 



vJfl*' 








A CORROSIVE SOCIAL CEMENT 



''There are more junkies on Wall 
Street than most people realize, " says 
Jack, a trader at a brokerage house 
who is on methadone to deal with his 
heroin habit. [NYT 5-20-84] 

Businesses could not be profitable 
without constant and regular infu- 
sions of drugs, both legal and illegal, 
into their workforces. Drugs are a 
vital ingredient in the successful 
management of any workforce, even if 
management itself only provides ac- 
cess to coffee, candy and cigarettes. 

The provision of illegal drugs such 
as marijuana, cocaine and heroin is a 
multi-billion dollar global industry 
which operates in a very flexible, effi- 
cient and decentralized fashion, in 
spite of strong central control at the 
syndicate level. Taken as a whole, the 
drug industry is a vital cement 
holding this society together. 

The industries which produce drugs 
present many contradictions. The vast 
consumption of legal caffeine, nico- 
tine, and alcohol, and billions of doses 
of prescription drugs such as valium, 
librium, etc., fuel major above- 
ground industries. Simultaneously, 
the illegal drug trade in marijuana, 
cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin 
provides economic activity for several 
million people otherwise classified as 
"unemployed" or "unemployable" 
— in addition to producing a nouveau 
riche of gangster millionaires. 

Drug use is probably more wide- 



spread today than ever before. In 
analyzing recent trends, a doctor who 
heads the largest private drug rehab 
program in the NYC area, said that 20 
years ago less than 4% of the 
population had used any illicit drug. 
"Today, more than 35% of the popu- 
lation has used an illicit drug. It is no 
longer a phenomenon of the minority 
poor, the underclass. Over 20 years, 
there has been a de facto decrimi- 
nalization of drug use. Our culture 
has said, you want to get high, then 
get high." [NYT 5-23-84] 



WHY TAKE DRUGS? 

It is difficult to generalize about 
drugs. One person might take a 
sedative to quiet inner anxiety, ano- 
ther takes 'speed' to write an article 
or go dancing, while still another 
takes some mushrooms to explore a 
relationship with a close friend. 
Meanwhile, a heavy cocaine user isn't 
having much fun with it anymore and 
has become increasingly nervous and 
paranoid, so he starts snorting heroin 
to calm down and mellow out. After a 
while the heroin becomes a habit, and 
the cocaine is used (unsuccessfully) to 
avoid "coming down." 

The most positive reason to take 
drugs is to expand one's mental pro- 
cesses to include other types of per- 
ceptions than merely those we are 



Drugs 



53 



trained to see. At least initially, 
marijuana, hallucinogens, and the 
harder drugs can provide stimulating 
alterations of thought and perception. 
Especially in a materially and emo- 
tionally impoverished world, finding a 
realm of wonder and amazement 
inside one's own head is an exciting 
experience. It's also fun! 

Taking pleasure in one's own 
thought processes, perceptions and 
feelings can be a genuinely sub- 
versive experience. The use of drugs 
in the face of prohibition is itself a 
mind-expanding experience vis a vis 
the state and the law. When you can 
be busted for a harmless act such as 
smoking a joint, a new awareness of 
authority and the law is gained. This 
in turn can produce a subversive con- 
sciousness if acceptance of authority 
and law is rejected because experi- 



ence has delegitimized the system. 

Drug use had this effect on me. Of 
course I used lots of prescription 
drugs for colds, asthma, etc., as I was 
growing up. Then I was taught to fear 
and despise illegal drugs in elemen- 
tary and junior high school. Late to 
become interested in experimenting 
with drugs, I finally started smoking 
pot when I was almost 17. A high 
school English teacher encouraged 
me to read Herman Hesse's classic 
Steppenwolf, and the Carlos Casta- 
neda books. These stimulated my 
desire to try LSD, mushrooms, and 
speed. I also read Aldous Huxley's 
The Doors of Perception which further 
encouraged my intellectual curiosity 
about hallucinogens: 

''In the [hallucinogenic] experience 
. . . place and distance cease to be of 
much interest. The mind does its per- 




54 



Processed World 



th0 »»itcyimfm» 



BAYBRw ^^\ Send for samples 

pH/kPfiAf FnTfr/\r ^ ^/>/^/> ^af\d Literature to 
pRpDUCTA^ 

^>^ HEROIN ^^^^^ LYC€70L 



73*# i//rif #r/</ so^vent^ 



^SALOPHEtr 



FARBEJVFABRIKBN OF \^^— '^^^x^40 STONB STREET. 

ELBERFBLD CO. ^--^ NEW YORK. 



Ka/r Alumni Magazine. J«nu»ry. 1972 



Bayer Advertisement 



from The Politics of Heroin in S.E. Asia 



ceiving in terms of intensity of exis- 
tence, profundity of significance, 
relationships within a pattern. . . Not 
that the category of space had been 
abolished. When I got up and walked 
about, I could do so quite normally, 
without misjudging the whereabouts 
of objects. Space was still there, but it 
had lost its predominance. . . And 
along with an indifference to space 
there went an even more complete 
indifference to time: 'There seems to 
be plenty of it, ' was all I could [tell the 
investigator who asked me my feelngs 
on 'time'].'' — The Doors of Per- 
ception 

Cultures in all times have employed 
drugs to explore consciousness. Pey- 
ote and psilocybin mushrooms have 
been commonly used in Native Amer- 
ican religious rituals. Even alcohol 
had a largely religious application 
several centuries ago. Only in modern 
society have addiction and drug abuse 
become common phenomena. In each 
case (coffee, tea, opium, tobacco, 
chocolate, mushrooms, pot, coca, 
etc.) a foreign substance was removed 
from its native context and abused by 
modern society. 

The problems we associate with 
drugs are not caused by the drugs 
themselves, but by the attitudes and 
intentions people bring to their use. 



Nearly any kind of drug can be useful 
and pleasurable if taken in full 
knowledge of the benefits and the 
drawbacks, and if the drug is con- 
sciously used for specific purposes 
and not as a mindless habit. For 
example, I've used hallucinogens to 
explore my brain, 'speed' to drive 
long distance and to stay up late at 
night, pot to relax after work. Most 
people agree that a little alcohol on a 
semi-regular basis is not a bad thing. 
Many drugs can be used recreational- 
ly, e.g. I've danced on Percodan 
(synthetic narcotic pain killer) and 
had quite a good time. 

People have plenty of good non- 
hedonistic reasons to want to "get 
high," too. The basic institutions and 
relationships of our society are based 
on authoritarian and hierarchical or- 
ganization and the buying and selling 
of human time. People use drugs to 
numb themselves to the hypocrisy 
and stupidity of these basic facts. 

It is the rare neighborhood or work- 
place where people are genuinely 
friends and offer each other support 
and pleasure. Loneliness is tragically 
common in the modern U.S. Drug use 
is a (frequently self-destructive) way 
to "get back" at a world in which life 
has been belittling and painful. Drugs 
can seem to eliminate, at least tern- 



Drugs 



55 



porarily, people's need for the social 
support and love which are not there. 
It is easier to assuage loneliness, 
anxiety and pain through drugs than 
it is to change the circumstances 
which produce those feelings. 

In a world where "feeling good" is 
for many a fleeting experience, drugs 
produce a variety of pleasurable if 
short-term euphorias. Unfortunately, 
too many people have so few "regu- 
lar" experiences that charge their 
mental sensibilities, that drugs be- 
come their only way to get "high." 
They lose contact with their own 
desires and no longer want to do 
much. Ultimately they replace the 
daily ups and downs of their lives with 
the cycle of buying and consuming 
drugs, getting high and coming down. 
Drug euphorias (from coke and heroin 
especially) come to replace the plea- 
sures derived from social experi- 
ences. In tying users more closely to 
the drug network and the consump- 
tion cycle than to friends, family or 



neighbors, drugs reinforce the social 
atomization that produced so much 
misery in the first place. 

The most important reason people 
use drugs is that they can see nothing 
better to do. A 42-year old heroin 
addict, recently paroled: ''When I got 
out of prison last October, three days 
after I got home I started using heroin 
again. I was bored. There was nothing 
to do and I couldn't resist it. . . I've 
been on methadone since December, 
and that takes care of my heroin 
problem. But I still need something, 
so Vm using coke. Fm shooting it. 
Coke allows me to escape momentari- 
ly. . .It's something to do, instead of 
sitting around, thinking of my mis- 
eries. . ." [NYT 5-20-84] 

In an atomized urban society, drug 
contacts provide a ready-made circle 
of "friends" with whom to socialize. 
But their socialization tends to revolve 
around the buying, selling and con- 
suming of drugs. For those without 
close friends, or perhaps new in town 




Sometimes I feel as passionate as a potato. 



l)."bu*iiapif' 



56 



Processed World 



and without any contacts, drug circles 
provide the form, without the content, 
of friendship. These superficial 
friendships are easily betrayed if a 
better deal is to be made. Still, being 
with warm bodies in front of the TV, 
even if they're conversational zom- 
bies, is preferable to a lonely night in 
a one-room with your own small set. 
Illegal drug use also continues to 
enjoy a certain mystique and status, 
in which one is "cool" for using drugs 
— the more conspicuously they are 
consumed, the "cooler" the user. 
This mystique crosses all kinds of 
social and racial barriers. Just about 
any sub-group of the population has 
its own sub-group of regular illegal 
drug users. And this generally in- 
cludes all types of drugs, for nearly 
any kind is readily available on the 
streets of North America. 

DRUGS AND JOBS 

We know how crucial are our little 
breaks to surviving the eight-hour 
day. For most of us those little breaks 
are spent taking in some combination 
of legal and illegal drugs: Coffee and 
cigarette to try to wake up from the 
tedium of the morning's tasks, or per- 
haps a joint followed by donut and 
coffee to put a little spark in the 
feelings and perceptions, or maybe a 
nice cup of tea and a Valium to calm 
down after a bad morning at the 
copier, or a couple of lines of coke to 
get through 4 hours of overtime. . . 
Some even sneak out to an isolated 
spot where they can take a shot of 
heroin. And let's not forget the most 
ubiquitous and debilitating drug of 
all, alcohol — acceptably ingested in 
massive quantities near every work- 
site, especially downtown offices, at 
every lunch hour. 

The extent to which drug use re- 
presents a "taking back" of one's 
own time and thoughts and erodes the 
work ethic is corroborated by some 
statistics about drug use and job per- 
formance taken from a Newsweek 



cover story on August 22, 1983: 

Joseph Lodge, a former Drug En- 
forcement Agency official, now run- 
ning a drug consulting firm in Miami, 
has come up with a computer profile 
of a "typical recreational drug user in 
today's workforce": He or she was 
born between 1948 and 1965, is late 
three times more often than fellow 
employees, requests early dismissal 
or time off during work 2.2 times 
more often, has 2.5 times as many 
absences of eight days or more, uses 
three times the normal level of sick 
benefits, is five times more likely to 
file a workmen's compensation claim. 
They are also more likely to have 
accidents, since attention is not 
always focused on the boring work at 
hand. All of these methods of taking 
back time and money from employers 
are indicators of the willingness to 
take back mental space from the work 
itself, as well. 

Not surprisingly, many companies 
think drugs are the cause of lost 
productivity and lost profits, with 
estimates ranging from $16-26 bilhon 
annually. Drug abuse counseling ser- 
vices within corporate Employee As- 
sistance Programs (EAP's) are be- 
coming common. The point of these 
programs is only incidentally human- 
istic — the primary reason is obvious- 
ly to restore employees to a profitable 
status for the company. 

Employee Assistance Programs fail 
because they can't even acknowledge 
one of the prime motivations for 
selling drugs in the first place: low 
wages. Messengers, mail clerks, VDT 
operators, and all the low-wage 
grunts of the Information Army can 
double and even triple their income, 
tax-free, by dealing pot and coke to 
their co-workers. The same holds true 
for factory workers. 

Nor can these programs cope with 
the causes of the stress which drive 
people to drugs, namely intense work 
paces, boredom and bosses. The 
EAP's job is to fit the "maladjusted" 
workers to the company's norms, not 



Drugs 



57 




to campaign for lighter workloads or 
socially useful work. Even Newsweek, 
in its story on "Drugs in the Work- 
place," concluded that the real roots 
of drug abuse lie in the fact that 
"many jobs are. . . like torture, . . 
these people bring mind-altering 
drugs to ease the boredom, the 
tension and the stress of doing their 
job." 

Once an "abuser" agrees to seek 
help for a substance problem, the 
usual "treatment" is a new, legal 
drug, e.g. methadone, darvon, Val- 
ium. Individuals are then coached in 
how to go on living with just the right 
amount of drug use, and are offered 
prescriptions for new drugs. 

Mark, an investment counselor, 
and his wife, Louise, an executive for 
a public-relations company, both her- 
oin addicts, arrive together twice a 
week for their methadone at the clinic 
on Wall Street. "/ know I might have 
to use it for a long period, or the rest 
of my life, but that's just like medi- 



cation for a heart disease, ' ' Louise 
said. ''That's how I look at it.'' 
"Methadone offers me stability, " her 
husband said. "/ have so many 
pressures and worry that I can 't kick 
it. I'm not afraid of the physical pain, 
but the emotional pain of being 
without it. " [NYT 5-23-84] 

Methadone is one of the biggest 
legal drug rackets in the country. 
Federally funded, the program ad- 
ministers daily doses of methadone to 
tens of thousands of heroin addicts in 
most major cities. Heroin was origin- 
ally introduced as a cough sup- 
pressent, then advertised as a "cura- 
tive" for morphine addiction around 
the turn of the century. Now metha- 
done, another sickeningly addictive 
narcotic, is offered as the legal alter- 
native to heroin. Instead of checking 
in with your dealer every day, you 
check in with the government bureau- 
cracy. Methadone allows some ad- 
dicts to stay drugged and still be 
socially functional, i.e. to keep work- 



58 



Processed World 



ing. But others simply add the 
methadone dose to their repertoire of 
possible drug deals, as they continue 
to use heroin and whatever else 
they're into. 

Unfortunately, the existing meth- 
ods of "rehabilitation" are dubious at 
best. They are characterized by two 
basic kinds of "treatment": a new 
drug to replace the illegal one, or 
going cold turkey in a halfway house. 
The regimen in the halfway program 
usually involves breaking the addict's 
individual spirit and reimposing res- 
pect for outside authority (we can 
imagine that there might be another 
type of halfway program in which 
people genuinely helped each other 
out and created a new community of 
affection and support, without the 
crutch of authority). Following these 
prerequisites the reformed junkie is 
trained to work (or look for work) 
instead of using drugs. . . unfortu- 
nately, most jobs lead one right back 
to a desire for drugs, and a desire for 
the big money to be made from selling 
drugs. 

HYPOCRIS Y AND REPRESSION 

The differentiation between one 
drug's legality and another's illegality 
is arbitrary. The same government 
which keeps marijuana illegal by 
classifying it as a dangerous drug, 
continually allows violent carcinogens 
and mutagens to be used on our food 
and in routine industrial processes. 
Even then banned chemicals are 
frequently exported to other coun- 
tries, and come right back to us in 
imported foodstuffs. 

But the government doesn't keep 
drugs illegal for our own good. The 
real reasons for maintaining illegal 
drugs seem to be to guarantee big 
profit margins to the successful im- 
porters and dealers and to provide a 
pretext for social control. Since cer- 
tain drugs have a negative effect on 
"good working attitudes" the sup- 
pression is also partly motivated by a 



desire to control the workforce. 

The gigantic criminal justice indus- 
try needs illegal drugs to exist. Other- 
wise it would have to cut its budget, 
and many powerful people with 
vested interests in the status quo 
would find themselves cut out of a 
lucrative arrangement. The DEA and 
all government anti-drug forces are 
dependent on the drug industry to be 
the always-elusive foe — and of 
course the source of fat kickbacks, 
friendly real estate deals, and the 
graft that is part of importing drugs 
into the U.S. Most likely, the thou- 
sands employed in the spook bureau- 
cracies are involved not in stopping 
drug imports, but in seeing to it that 
the right cocaine, heroin and mari- 
juana get in to the right people. 

Recent newspaper reports indicate 
that record amounts of high-grade 
cocaine are flooding the nation's 
streets, and that the wholesale price 
of cocaine has dropped by 33% since 
the anti-drug programs were formed 
two years ago. Very efficient im- 
porting to meet the enormous demand 
must be part of the reason for this 
drop in price. In fact, the US has the 
biggest anti-drug bureaucracies in the 




Drugs 



59 



world, and yet continues to be one of 
the biggest illegal-drug-using coun- 
tries in the world. It doesn't take a 
great deal of imagination to see that 
there is a symbiotic relationship 
between the importers and the law. 
Even if we could assume the DEA is 
an honest organization, it wouldn't be 
able to live up to its mandate. "To 
stop all the drugs coming into New 
York, I'd need a Marine division," 
says Bruce Jensen, head of DEA in 
NYC and suburbs. 

As a pretext for hassling people, 
illegal drugs are popular excuses with 
authorities everywhere. Whether 
crossing borders or just sitting in 
"People's Park" in Berkeley smoking 
a joint, ingesting or carrying any of a 
number of drugs invites conflict with 
the law. Most urban dwellers have 
observed a cop who took a dislike to 
someone's looks, race, clothes, what- 
ever, searches them, and ends up 
busting him/her for carrying weed or 
pills. 

More recently, the pursuit of illegal 
drug use in the workplace has 
provided a rationalization for totali- 
tarian behavior on the part of em- 
ployers: undercover investigations of 
workers, blood, urine and lie detector 
tests, dog searches, etc. The overall 
impact of this is to intimidate work- 
ers, and to deny even the most basic 
rights of privacy, reinforcing manage- 
ment's hand against workers' self- 
organization. 

Illegal drug use is an ambiguous 
social adhesive. It does contribute to 
an expanded awareness for msmy, 
and can play an important role in 
stimulating the subversive spirit. But 
this society needs ways for people to 
be apparently against it, even when 
they are actually under control. Drug 
use is a regular indulgence in illegal 
behavior but is entirely consistent 
with the rest of daily life: consuming 
various types of food, entertainment, 
and travel commodities. The mys- 
tique of illegal drugs also reinforces 
the common advertising myth that 




one can find happiness and satisfac- 
tion through the consumption of mer- 
chandise. In spite of legal repression, 
the drug industry serves an important 
validating role in today's society. 

THE DRUG INDUSTRIES 

Drug production is a domin£mt 
industry in many countries. A major 
part of the economies of Colombia, 
Peru, Bolivia, etc. is fueled by cocaine 
money. Pakistani, Iranian, Afghani, 
Mexican, Burmese, and Thai pea- 
sants cultivate vast acres of poppy for 
processing into heroin. There are 
millions of acres of coca, poppy, £md 
marijuana producing fields and thou- 
sands of drug processing factories 
throughout the world, exporting to 
lucrative urban markets in vast qu£m- 
tities. 

If the National Organization for the 
Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) 
is right, the value of the 1983-84 pot 
crop in the U.S. was $13.9 billion — a 
figure it characterized as "conser- 
vative." That would put it ahead of 
corn as the #1 U.S. cash crop. 

Legal pharmaceuticals constitute a 
gigantic world-wide industry. In the 
U.S. alone, tranquilizers comprise 
25% of the total $8 billion annual 
drug market. Mgmy prescription 
drugs in the U.S. are sold over the 
counter in 3rd World countries (e.g. 
Darvon in Mexico), £md produce 
enormous profits for a few giant drug 
multinationals: Ciba-Geigy, Hoffman- 
LaRoche, Eli Lilly, Sandoz, Smith 
Kline & French, etc. 



60 Processed World 



shit has finally come down on me for being late to work on a daily basis. I was in connie's 
office adding up the change drawer and she came in and closed the door as she was 
preparing to go home, immediately my mind started cataloguing all incriminating 
activities and preparing provisional responses in the two seconds before she laid it on 
me. and it's always the same, these slimy tactics. 

come to work on time, it's beginning to bother kathy. 

sure, kathy could give a shit, she's a co-worker, it's like, why don't you just tell me to 
come on time without trying to blame your neurotic adherence to petty rules on other 
people, my response to this was to simply say nothing and stare at her. I think it's a good 
counterploy, because you don't get the shaft for being abusive. At the same time, they 
don't get what they want from you, which is oh yes, it won't happen again, uh, parking 
space . . . it's my car . . . haven't been getting enough sleep . . . alarm clock ... I know 
how unfair it is and I'm so sorry, instead you just stare back in silence and they're left 
with this really heavy atmosphere that they've created, and you leave it to them to 
defuse it. 

I arrived this morning my usual 10 minutes late and went immediately to the word 
processor to plug in the hard core, plugged in the headphones, turned on the machine, 
loaded the disks, and watched the following message roll over the screen: 



GOOD MORNING. 

YOU'LL BE SPENDING THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS HERE. YOUR 
ASSIGNMENT, IN BROAD TERMS, IS TO TYPE ON DEMAND, MAKE 
COPIES, AND HELP RUN THE OFFICE BY ANSWERING THE PHONE, 
HANDING OUT KEYS AND MAKING CHANGE. YOU WILL HAVE NO 
CONTROL OVER THE TASKS YOU WILL BE PERFORMING, THOUGH 
YOU WILL BE ENCOURAGED TO MAKE SMALL DECISIONS, SUCH AS 
THE TYPE STYLE YOU WILL USE FOR PRINTING DOCUMENTS OR 
CHOICE OF COLORED PAPER FOR THE MIMEOGRAPH. 

ALL TASK ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE PREFACED BY THE WORD 
'PLEASE.' PEOPLE WILL BE CORDIAL AND WILL CONTINUOUSLY 
THANK YOU FOR WORK WELL DONE. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED 
CASUAL FRATERNIZATION WITH THE STAFF AND VISITING POLICE 
OFFICERS, BUT YOUR FRIENDS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE 
OFFICE. YOUR INDEPENDENT MOVEMENTS WILL BE LIMITED TO A 
42-MINUTE LUNCH BREAK AND BRIEF TRIPS TO THE BATHROOM 
AND VENDING MACHINES, WHICH YOU MAY TAKE ONLY AFTER 
NOTIFYING CO-WORKERS. 

THIS IS A WHITE COLLAR POSITION, AND AS SUCH YOU WILL NOT BE 
REQUIRED TO PUNCH A TIME CARD, BUT YOU WILL RECORD YOUR 
HOURS DAILY, AS WELL AS YOUR IN AND OUT TIMES. YOU WILL NOT 
BE UNDER CONTINUOUS DIRECT SUPERVISION, BUT YOUR 
PRODUCTION WILL BE MONITORED CAREFULLY BY FREQUENT 
SPOT-CHECKS. AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU WILL LOCK UP ALL 
KEY CABINETS, COUNT THE MONEY IN THE CASH REGISTER AND 
CHANGE DRAWER AND LOCK IT IN THE SAFE BEFORE YOU GO. YOUR 
COUNT WILL BE DOUBLE-CHECKED IN THE MORNING. YOU WILL BE 
GIVEN KEYS TO EVERYTHING BUT BE TRUSTED WITH NOTHING. 

HAVE A GOOD DAY. 



u 

k. 

'5. 
(/) 

c 
o 
u 

u 
'Z 

u 

<j 



Drugs 



61 



POT 

Thousands of people have found 
marijuana farming an escape from 
wage-labor, and a way to be self- 
employed. In fact, marijugma farming 
is so big in the U.S. that strides in 
botanical and genetic research into 
the weed are being compared to the 
"pioneer corn breeders [who] worked 
feverishly in the 30 's to develop 
tougher, better-yielding hybrids." 
[S.F. Chronicle, 4-5-84] 

Thomas Byrne, head of DEA's can- 
nabis investigation section is quoted 
in the paper: "... we don't dispute 
that a large percentage of the popu- 
lation uses marijuana. . . and there is 
a tremendous amount grown for home 
consumption." The DEA estimates 
that only about 10 to 15% of the 
annual national crop is seized. That 
leaves upwards of 35 million pot 
plants being harvested and smoked 
each year. 

With so much marijuana being 
grown and sold, it can only get into 
the hands of millions of consumers 
through an effective and flexible dis- 
tribution network. Being a local mari- 
juana merchant has become a com- 
mon way for peple to "start their own 
business" with very little capital up 
front. Middlemen in dope deals can 
net $20,000-40,000+ a year easily, as 
long as they don't squ£mder their 
money on drugs! And best of all it's 
tax free. . . the only tax is the Anxiety 
Tax, which comes from the possibility 
of being ripped off or busted. 

Significantly, neither the marijuana 
farmer, nor the marijuzma dealer is 
engaged in dangerous behavior (for 
capitalism). Each is successfully 
avoiding wage-labor by having a 
small business. They are following 
the time-honored American tradition 
of free enterprise, in some cases even 
reviving an agrarian lifestyle. The il- 
legality of the industry means they 
can enjoy a wide open, unregulated 
and untaxed market, without any 
formal government intervention, be- 



yond token efforts at suppression. It 
also means that there is no legal pro- 
tection for the private property known 
as "the crop." As a result, heavily 
armed pot farmers often live through 
anxiety-ridden months of guarding 
their crop against thieves. 

The exception to bourgeois pot 
farming, which also prevails among 
some other illegal drugs such as 
mushrooms, is found in the "grow 
your own movement." No one knows 
how many people participate, but this 
is the only way for people to enjoy the 
mental explorations from drugs with- 
out having to engage in commodity 
relations. 

COKE & HEROIN 

With the exception of alcohol, 
cocaine and heroin addiction produce 
more visible human casualties than 
any other drug. I had a close friend 
who went from being a charming, 
vibrant fellow (albeit insecure) to first 
a serious coke user (everyday for over 
a year) . As he became more paranoid 
and insecure from the heavy coke use, 
he started snorting heroin recrea- 
tionally. Within about 6-9 months, if 
not sooner (he may have hidden it for 
a while), he had increased his daily 
habit from $25 to $75. Then he con- 
verted to injections to increase the ef- 




out of kontrol data institute 



62 



Processed World 



fectiveness of the dose and decrease 
his daily habit to about $50. Through- 
out this time he became wrapped up 
in the cycle of getting money, usually 
through selling coke and heroin to 
other users, and then squandering it 
on his own habits. By this time his 
former vibrancy was reduced to a 
superficial friendliness, as he with- 
drew into his room and his world of 
smack and speedballs. A Catholic 
child of the well-off Bay Area sub- 
urbs, he is a typical New Junkie of the 
late 70 's and early 80' s. 

Coke and heroin have become 
readily available in any neighbor- 
hood. As many a mechanic or under- 
writer has discovered, drugs are more 
lucrative than any salaried or waged 
activity. ''There is so much money to 
be made that average middle -class 
people are going into coke and heroin 
dealing, ' ' reports Sterling Johnson 
Jr., New York's Special Narcotics Pro- 
secutor. "They know the odds are on 
their side, that most dealers who take 
care of friends and neighbors don't 
get caught. 

The illegal drug industry also 
provides a unique chance to cross 
class lines in the current range of 
economic "opportunities." Poor 
street kids can grow up to get a piece 



of multi-million dollar heroin and 
cocaine markets. The city of Oakland 
California has a population of 
350,000, of which an estimated 20,000 
are heroin addicts. Based on a $50 a 
day habit that works out to a $360 
million a year heroin market in 
Oakland! Six gangs are shooting it out 
to control it. "Oakland dealers are 
now often in their teens, and their 
leaders are in their early 20s. . . many 
dealers employ youngsters as young 
as 12 or 13 to serve as lookouts and 
yell if they see cops or other enemies. 
Those jobs are in such demand that 
some gangs have waiting lists of 
youngsters eager to go to work. 
'When you 're 13 and somebody offers 
you $50 a day to hang out and watch a 
street corner, you 're not going to get 
a paper route, ' said an Oakland 
narcotics officer. " [San Jose Mercury 
News, 5-1-84] 

The plain logic of this situation 
reveals the blatant hypocrisy of capi- 
talist society. The successful entre- 
preneur, who "finds a need and fills 

it," is extolled as the role model. But 
in the midst of the squalor of urban 
ghettoes in every U.S. city are wildly 
successful practitioners of this credo 
who are thought of as criminals, 
"hardcore unemployed," and eco- 



THREE ARGUMENTS FOR THE REPEAL OF MONDAY 
AS A GESTURE OF GOOD FAITH 



MYLIFE AS ACUT-UP 

Studying the Jumble 
over scrambled eggs, 
my brain still a blender drink 
from the night before. 

II 
AFTAWERK 

I was debating 
whether to run or not. 
I lost. 
I won. 



by Kurt Lipschutz 

III 

soesheeoh-ehkunommick stratification rag 

ya gotta be where ya gotta be — 
anyway that's what they want us 
to believe: 

that we 
fit inside our lives 
like a record does a sleeve, 

that it's 
dangerous Out There, so it's 
better not to leave, 

that someone 
somewhere's got it worse- 
be glad it's not you in a hearse- 
so cut out your bellyaching: 



you wouldn't be here if you weren't meant to be 



Drugs 



63 




nomically inactive. 

CONCLUSION 

The "drug scene" is a violent, 
alienated and manipulative arena of 
life. But the scene is largely defined 
by its repression. Were illegal drugs 
decriminalized, and had we access to 
complete drug information, we could 
make intelligent decisions about what 
drugs to use and in what circum- 
stances they might be useful or 
pleasurable. The free, moderate use 
of drugs in a supportive human en- 
vironment could be a widely shared 
pleasure. 

However, drugs are a commodity, 
uniquely capable of altering moods, 
thoughts, perceptions, but neverthe- 
less a commodity. This means that the 
production and distribution of drugs 
is an alienated and money-coerced 
activity. The industry is producing 
both small businesspeople and mil- 
lionaires. It is part of the cash 
economy, providing a buy-and-sell 
hfestyle for economically "margin- 
alized" people. Paying for drugs is 
also a continuing reason for people to 
work at useless and painful jobs. At 
the same time drugs are the means 
for making such work physically and 
emotionally tolerable. Although drugs 
are useful tools in self-exploration and 
psychic experimentation, the drug 



culture co-opts these pursuits into 
money-making activities. 

Illegal drugs are a remarkably ef- 
fective institution for turning poor 
communities against themselves and 
producing an atmosphere of isolation 
and terror. So long as drugs are kept 
illegal, people are impelled to prey on 
each other to be able to pay the high 
prices. 

Illegal drug use also provides 
people with the illusion of being 
"outside the system" even when they 
are reinforcing it through self-induced 
passivity, escapism, and consumer- 
ism. Ultimately the lawbreaking 
through drug use reduces rebellion 
against the law's authority to the 
consumption of commodities. 

As for the real problem of wide- 
spread addiction, the only hope for 
most addicts is a genuine social 
upheaval, and even that may not be 
enough to break through the passivity 
and despair of many junkies. Any- 
thing short of a strong reassertion of 
human community and a newfound 
delight in social activity will fail to 
turn the junkie back on to the 
pleasures of social intercourse. The 
cure for addiction will not be a 
technical fix, a new drug, or the right 
program. It will come when life is too 
exciting to simply get high. 

— Lucius Cabins 



A^lJL^ 



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